Rep. Ilham Omar’s beginning of her Congressional duties has been nothing but a roller-coaster one. She twitted, and wildfires erupted. She spoke up and thunderous roars deafened us. She moved forward, and they blocked her way; she tried to elaborate and they tried to shut her off; she is young; she is a devout Muslim; she is a perfect American girl, bright, straight talker, and engaging. Everything that the establishment of the Republican Party fears.
Congresswoman Ilham Omar stood her ground saying she did not condone antisemitic rhetoric but is firmly within her right to criticize the policies of the Israeli government and its lobbying extensions towards making lives of the Palestinian people harsher and harsher.
In her own words, she twitted, ” Being opposed to [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and the occupation is not the same as being anti-Semitic. I am grateful to the many Jewish allies who have spoken out and said the same.”
Today, the House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning ” anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism and other forms of bigotry.” The initial impression of the drive to write the bill was that the Democrats were in a panic and they wanted to control the damage they thought Rep. Omar created. However, as the debate on hate and bigotry gathered energy, some principled politicians and the overall media coverage helped Dems to take a deep breath.
President Trump ( a man who insulted minorities from all streaks) jumped into the ring calling on Rep. Omar to apologize and resign. Many other right wingers and some pro-Israeli lobbying groups also pressured the Dems to censure Rep. Ilham Omar.
However, many good Americans including prominent Jewish citizens made the distinction between condemning the Jewish people as a whole (antisemitism) and criticizing the policies that the Israeli government pursues. Some politicians who have not lost their moral compass also stood on her side including presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren. That takes courage.
Thanks to the progressive mass media and courageous citizens who refused to be cowered, the debate has been widened and deepened to include all forms of hate and bigotry. The Jewish and certainly all peoples of the world have the right to exist and thrive.
Israel is a state full of contradictions. We see zealots trying to drive the Palestinians out of the map. We also see peace-loving Jewish people who defend the right of Palestinians for a decent existence. Some brave Jewish human right fighters died in the course of protecting defenseless Palestinians. Rep. Ilham Omar made this clear in her subsequent elaborations.
Ilham Omar is certainly an impressive young politician. She lost her mom at age two and was brought up by her father and grandfather. Her family fled Somalia after the Civil war broke out in 1991. She spent a few years in refugee camps after which she was relocated to the USA in 1995. In 2000, she became a USA citizen.
She worked as a community and child nutritionist and as a campaign manager to a couple of local politicians. Her last post was the Policy & Initiatives of the Women Organizing Women Network, serving as its director. The network, as presented by Wikipedia, “[A]dvocates for women from East Africa to take on civic and political leadership roles.”
Ilham Omar’s next step was to run for a sit in the Minnesota House of Representatives, and she won it in 2016. Shortly, her fast-track political carer led her to run for the US Congress representing Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District. She won it in 2018. Her Congressional assignments include her membership in committees on budget, education and labor, and foreign affairs.
Ilham Omar visited Eritrea on March 4, 2019, as a member of the congressional delegation led by Karen Bass; it was the first US Congressional delegation to visit Eritrea after 14 years. She was quoted by Associated Press as saying “she was impressed with the regional thaw in East Africa after Eritrea and Ethiopia made peace, two decades after a border war killed some 80,000 people. Diplomatic and other ties have been restored, leading to celebrations and emotional family reunions.” Included in the Congressional delegation was Eritrean-American Congressman, Joe Neguse.
You can go to her homepage and learn more.
I am so proud of Congresswoman Ilham Omar. She is a role model for our young people.