Minnesota Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar is one of the new Progressives in the U.S. House of Representatives. She is Largely overshadowed by New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep.Rashida Tlaib, of Michigan but Omar is finally beginning to draw some national attention.
However, most of this congresswoman’s slowly expanding spotlight has been dubious.
Recently Omar has: blasted the U.S. for seeking to sideline the notorious leader of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro; called for up to 90 percent tax on “uber” wealthy Americans; and criticized Israel for passing a nation-state law which she said fails to “recognize” religions other than Judaism.
Plenty of Americans and even Europeans have raised their eyebrows at support for Maduro. Venezuela has been in an economic freefall for years. The situation has grown increasingly dire as the current leader follows the failed socialist measures of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez.
A 90 percent income tax rate is a non-starter that barely warrants discussion. So let’s turn instead to Omar’s criticism of Israel’s Nation-State Law.
Omar attacks Israel for being a Jewish State
Omar, a Somalia-born Muslim, was responding to a question posed during an interview by Zainab Salbi, the host of the Yahoo News talk show, Through Her Eyes, which aired Tuesday, Jan. 29. “How can America work productively towards a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” Salbi asked.
“By having an equal approach to dealing with both,” Omar first responded. She went on to explain that she has always found it “aggravating” that the U.S. has a policy to treat Israel as “superior’ to the Arab Palestinians.
Omar bemoaned that the U.S. “mask[s]” its preference as a conversation that’s about ‘justice’ and a two state solution, when you have policies that clearly prioritize one over the other.”
When pressed to give an example, Omar complied: “When I see Israel institute a law that recognizes it as a Jewish state and does not recognize the other religions that are living in it and we still uphold it as a democracy in the Middle East, I almost chuckle because I know that if we see that in any other society we would criticize it. We would call it out. We do that to Iran. We do that to any other place that sort of upholds its religion.”
That law, which Omar mischaracterized, was voted into law by Israel’s government last July. Its official title is Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People. It defines Israel as “the historical homeland of the Jewish people” and its “historical right to self-determination.”
Contrary to Omar’s claim the law did absolutely nothing to change the status of any religion in Israel, and freedom of religion for all religions is already enshrined in Israeli law.
Israel: Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Druze
Approximately 75 percent of Israel’s population is Jewish, 18 percent Muslim, two percent Christian and 1.6 percent Druze. Israel’s Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel “promises freedom of religion and conscience and full social and political equality, regardless of religious affiliation.” This new nation-state law does nothing to alter that.
The head of the Kohelet Policy Forum, an Israeli think tank, who was involved with the original drafting of the nation-state legislation responded to Omar’s statements. Moshe Koppel told this reporter: “Israel is a liberal democratic nation-state quite like most European countries and quite unlike tens of Islamic states — and especially unlike the Palestinian proto-state for which Congressperson Ilhan Omar advocates, which “sort of upholds its religion” by stoning gays, driving out Christians and murdering those who sell land to Jews.”
Omar’s ‘blissful’ childhood In ‘vibrant’ Somalia
During the same Through Her Eyes interview, Omar spoke fondly about her “beautiful, blissful” childhood. She described it as “vibrant” Somalia, where she grew up until her family was displaced by the brutal civil war in 1989. After the war, Omar and her family then lived in a refugee camp in Kenya for four years, and finally landed in the U.S. in 1993.
According to a United Nations report, the women of Somalia suffer from a clan-based culture which promotes strict male hierarchy and authority. Somali women have strict religious and cultural limitations placed on them; they are either entirely “excluded from formal decision making and asset ownership or operate through a patriarchal filter.”
Somali women also have severely high rates of maternal mortality, rape, violence against women and child marriage. In Somalia, “women’s access to justice is restricted both within the formal, clan-based and sharia-based judicial systems.”
Somalia is officially an Islamic country. So is Yemen, the country of Omar’s mother’s birth. Egypt, Iran, Iraq and almost every other nation in North Africa and the Middle East are also officially Islamic countries.
83 nations have official or preferred-religions
According to the Pew Research Center, Islam is the religion of 30 of the 83 nations in the world with an official or preferred state religion.
Of the remaining 53 nations, 41 (plus the Vatican) are Christian states, and five are Buddhist, with several having more than one preferred religion. Israel is the only Jewish state in the world; but Judaism is not the official religion of the State of Israel. Israel does not have an official religion.
Moreover, Omar derided the U.S. for treating Israel as a democracy, claiming that Israel “upholds” Judaism as part of its official law, in her interview.
One then has to wonder whether Omar would consider her beloved Somalia, or Yemen or Iran democracies? Or how about Costa Rica, which is an officially Roman Catholic country, or Denmark, Norway or Finland, each of which adopts a form of Christianity as the official religion? Does Omar consider Scotland, England or Spain democracies? All are officially Christian nations. In England and Scotland the Head of State is also the official Head of the Official Church. It’s aggravating, isn’t it?
Guess what else Saudi Arabia and Iran have in common, along with Somalia and Yemen, and nine other countries? In all of these Muslim majority countries, atheists risk the death penalty for their non-belief.
Omar compares Israel not only to Iran, but also to Saudi Arabia
There has been some limited public criticism of Omar’s attack on Israel’s nation-state law. But in a segment of the interview which hasn’t garnered attention, Salbi raised the issue of the Minnesota legislator’s support for economic and legal warfare against the Jewish State.
“Talk about your support for boycott, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) on Israel,” the host asks Omar.
Omar admitted she supports boycotting Israel. Treating this as a non-issue, however, Omar pointed out she has also called for a boycott of Saudi Arabia, something that could be considered “anti-Islamic.” That sounds brave. But is it?
Why did Omar’s call for boycotting Saudi Arabia?
The taped interview shows a tweet from Omar: “Stories like these should cause Muslims all over the world to boycott Hajj this year! Sri Lankan maid beheaded in Saudi [Arabia].” Salbi refers to it as a tweet from“last year,” but the Sri Lankan woman referred to in the tweet was executed in 2013. And the reason given for the execution was her murder of a four-month-old boy in her care.
Whatever the reason for the discrepancy in timing, in this interview Omar was not only comparing Israel to Iran, but also to Saudi Arabia, both of which are officially Islamic countries governed by Sharia. In both Saudi Arabia and Iran, homosexuality is illegal. In both Saudi Arabia and Iran, the non-majority religions are treated as inferior. In both Saudi Arabia and Iran, capital punishment is imposed for a range of activities, as mandated by Sharia. In both, women may not set foot in public unless their heads are covered as required by Sharia. No such laws bind anyone in Israel, and Omar found not one worthy of rebuke.
Omar began her criticism of the U.S. for failing to treat Israel and “Palestine” equally. She supported that position by invoking Israel’s new law, claiming that were any other country to “uphold its religion” the way Israel purportedly does through that law, “we would call it out.” Guess what? The Palestinian Authority, which rules over its citizens in a quasi-governmental fashion, self-describes as an officially Islamic government.
The population of Israel is 18 percent Muslim. Should Palestine ever become a state, its leadership has repeatedly and unequivocally declared that no Jews will be permitted to live there.
You have to chuckle.