Rep. Ilhan Omar Speaks Out Against U.S., Israel  Human Rights Violations, Faces Backlash
Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

During a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Monday, Rep. Ilhan Omar asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken a simple question: where do victims of human rights abuses, like those victimized by Israel and the U.S., go to seek justice?

This question comes after Blinken publicly opposed an investigation from the International Criminal Court into Israel’s human rights abuses against Palestinians.

Omar tweeted a video clip of the hearing, adding: “We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity. We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.”

Instead of a thoughtful policy discussion about victims on the receiving end of violence perpetuated by the U.S. and its allies, a flurry of condemnations followed the Congresswoman’s statements.

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Democratic House leadership, led by Nancy Pelosi, issued a rare joint statement denouncing Omar’s tweet as a false equivalence. A group of Jewish lawmakers called her statement offensive. And, of course, the right has seized on Omar’s comments, leading to Islamaphobic rhetoric hurled against the Minnesota legislator.

Some progressive Jewish advocates have hit back against the condemnations from Rep. Omar’s colleagues. “Odd their statement doesn’t address any of the actual content of @IlhanMN’s question,” Jewish Voice for Peace Action said a tweet. “Do these members of Congress not want to know how the victims of war crimes can seek justice? And fwiw, the US and Israel have absolutely committed unspeakable atrocities. Crack a history book.”

Beth Miller, government affairs manager for Jewish Voice for Peace Action, told Newsweek: it is “an undeniable fact that the US and Israel have committed unspeakable atrocities, the victims of which are still awaiting justice.” She said that the members of Congress criticizing Omar “are employing racist and Islamophobic tropes to attack” the Minnesota representative “for demanding answers from our Secretary of State.”

While the right-wing vehemently opposes critiques of America’s racist, colonial history and present, lashing out against those who speak up against America’s foreign policy is a bipartisan practice. This is yet another example.