A group of Democratic presidential candidates – Sens. Bernie Sanders (I – Vt.), Kamala Harris (D – Calif.), and Elizabeth Warren (D – Mass.) – all came out Wednesday in support of embattled freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D – Minn.), who has been accused of promoting anti-Semitism on several occasions, CNN reported .
“What I fear is going on in the House now is an effort to target Congresswoman Omar as a way of stifling that debate,” said Sanders, suggesting that critics of the congresswoman were trying to get Omar taken off the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “That’s wrong,” Sanders added.
In a separate statement, Harris warned that accusations of anti-Semitism “may put [Omar] at risk.”
“We all have a responsibility to speak out against anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, racism, and all forms of hatred and bigotry, especially as we see a spike in hate crimes in America,” the California Democrat said.
“We should be having a sound, respectful discussion about policy. You can both support Israel and be loyal to our country,” Harris continued. “I also believe there is a difference between criticism of policy or political leaders, and anti-Semitism. At the end of the day, we need a two-state solution and a commitment to peace, human rights, and democracy by all leaders in the region — and a commitment by our country to help achieve that.”
Warren later added herself to the list of candidates defending the freshman congresswoman. “We have a moral duty to combat hateful ideologies in our own country and around the world — and that includes both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia,” she said in a statement.
“In a democracy, we can and should have an open, respectful debate about the Middle East that focuses on policy. Branding criticism of Israel as automatically anti-Semitic has a chilling effect on our public discourse and makes it harder to achieve a peaceful solution between Israelis and Palestinians. Threats of violence — like those made against Rep. Omar — are never acceptable,” added the Massachusetts Democrat.
Omar has sparked condemnation from lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle, as well as several Jewish organizations, for a series of anti-Semitic comments. The Congresswoman once famously claimed that “Israel has hypnotized the world.”
Last week, Omar charged on Twitter that politicians in the United States were being forced to “pledge allegiance” to Israel and that the allegiance of American Jews is primarily with the Jewish State. In a separate incident, Omar replied on social media to a journalist wondering who the Congresswoman thought was paying American politicians to be pro-Israel by simply responding “AIPAC” (American Israel Public Affairs Committee).
The senators’ remarks came as House lawmakers put forward a resolution on Wednesday condemning racism. However, Democrats later came under fire from within their own ranks when Rep. Ted Deutch (D – Fla.) blasted the party for condemning all forms of hatred in the resolution, rather than solely condemning anti-Semitism in light of recent comments made by Omar.
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