Ilhan Omar responds to attacks: Rashida and I are here to stay

Two young Muslim women were elected to the United States House of Representatives in the 2018 election. Ilhan Omar is Black, and a refugee from war-devastated Somalia. Rahida Tlaib is of Palestinian descent, and has family living under Israeli oppression.

Both are outspoken supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which was initiated by the Palestinian grassroots to protest Israel’s oppression.

As supporters of BDS, they have been under attack from the Israeli lobby in the US, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which falsely claims BDS is anti-Semitic. Following Israel’s public stance, AIPAC claims that anti-Zionism, any assertion that Israel is an apartheid state, any noting of Zionism’s historic relations with real anti-Semitic forces, advocating a single democratic secular state that guarantees equal rights to Palestinians and Israeli Jews, and any major criticism of Israel — and much more along these lines — is anti-Semitism.

Both Omar and Tlaib have received multiple death threats from white supremacists and other Islamophobes.

Omar has been especially singled out for her statements attacking AIPAC. Republicans, mainstream Democrats and the media have attacked her as a result. Omar was falsely accused of saying that “Jewish money” dominates the US government after she noted that AIPAC is one of the country’s most powerful lobbies, and spends around US$100 million a year pressuring politicians to keep giving Israel billions for its military and to politically defend all Israeli policies.

Read the article by Barry Sheppard in Green Left Weekly.