State representative Ilhan Omar has yet to complete her first term in the Minnesota legislature, where she has accomplished approximately nothing of substance, though she has now secured the DFL endorsement to succeed Minnesota Fifth District Rep. Keith Ellison in Congress. In the brief Weekly Standard article “The anti-Israel seat,” I conclude with observations related to Omar’s frank hatred of Israel. She doesn’t sugarcoat it. She calls Israel an “apartheid regime.”
That is a defamatory falsehood with a shabby provenance. In Omar’s case, it is something more than an impulsive comment in a recent tweet. It represents her considered judgment. One can see it at work in her remarks on the floor of the Minnesota House in opposition to a bill (HF 400) opposing the boycott of Israel promoted by so-called BDS groups harking back to the “Zionism is racism” lie of the 1970’s.
The anti-boycott bill had strong bipartisan support in both houses of the Minnesota legislature. I believe that Republican Rep. Ron Kresha sponsored the bill in the house along with (my cousin) DFL Rep. Jon Applebaum.
Omar spoke against the bill on the floor of the house in February 2017. First she played her song of identity politics in the key of nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen: “I think I know a little bit about discrimination. I face it every single day. I carry multiple identities that are constantly, constantly being discriminated against.” Then she launched into this disquisition, likening Israel to the racist South African regime while distinguishing the Jewish people from the Jewish state:
I thank the author [Rep. Kresha] for thinking about this particular bill but I am saddened by the particular purpose I believe this bill serves. Some of the members in this room have spoken to and would like to believe that this is a particular bill that is to support the Jewish community. Some would even think that this is a great bill because we are a body that is fighting against discrimination.
If those two things were true there would have been a great support for [DFL] Rep. Hornstein’s amendment [described here]. I believe that this is the kind of thing we bring forth so that we create more division. We further a narrative that says particular peoples, the oppressions that they might feel, the ways that they might see they might want to use their freedoms in order to oppose a government that they might feel is oppressing is not okay and they don’t have a right to do so.
As many of you know I come from Africa and I wasn’t old enough to know all that was happening in South Africa when the apartheid was prevalent there, when South Africa was apartheid state. But I remember my grandfather talking to me about the stories of apartheid South Africa and telling me how that conversation shifted because so many people of conscience, so many people who understood that it was obviously for countries to continue to support South Africa have decided that they were going to engage in boycotts of that government so that that system would go down.
And so what we might see today and what we might not agree with because it is not a popular discourse might actually be a reality that some people might be living in. And we here in Minnesota, certainly in this body who are not educated enough to understand the nuances of the people who are living in Israel and Palestine are going through should not be having these conversations about what is appropriate and what it isn’t [sic].
I certainly never advocate for any kind of discrimination. I never will. But what I do advocate for is for all of us to work towards furthering peace in the world. And I do believe that you never get to having peace without justice. That is a fundamental thing that first must happen before we further peace.
We know, and I am certainly saddened by the rise of anti-Semitism and I have been part of a community that has been raising funds to support the Jewish community in this time of need because as my community is struggling with the particular ban that our president wants to put on us, the Jewish community has been side by side fighting with us, making sure that we have the resources that we need because I think there is a particular connection and brotherhood and sisterhood that Muslims and Jews have, one that is fundamentally based in our shared space in history, our shared land and one that we will never forget.
But what governments do and what is based in systems are very different. They truly are. And so I oppose this bill. I would love to have voted for a bill that would have expanded our ideals of fighting against discrimination and being a body that actually stood up against all discrimination. I don’t want to be part of a vote that limits the ability of people to fight toward that justice and peace.
The legislative history of HF 400 is posted here. The text of the bill is here. Omar’s opposition to the contrary notwithstanding, the bill was passed by both houses of the Minnesota legislature and signed by Governor Dayton in May 2017. The Jewish Community Relations Council press release celebrating the passage of the bill is posted online here.
Omar is an attractive woman until she opens her mouth to speak. Then she becomes an imposition on one’s tolerance for bafflegab, condescension and self-loving excess. I suffered for Power Line readers to transcribe her remarks from the video below.