WASHINGTON (JTA) — Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, lauded Jewish-Muslim cooperation in combating bigotry.
“Like members of the Jewish community, I know how it feels to be hated because of my religious beliefs,” Omar, who has stirred controversy in the Jewish community for attacks on Israel and suggesting she backed the boycott movement against the Jewish state, wrote Monday in an op-ed for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “But we know that we are stronger when we stand united against bigotry and hate.”
Omar, until now a state lawmaker, has come under fire for calling Israel an “apartheid regime” and for saying it had “hypnotized the world” to ignore its “evil” treatment of Palestinians.
Her oped notes a spike in reports of hate crimes on Muslims and Jews, and last month’s massacre at a synagogue complex in Pittsburgh.
She cited instances where the communities stood up for each other.
Muslim organizations “raised more than $200,000 to support the victims and their families from the Tree of Life Synagogue,” she said. “I remember how, less than two years ago, Jewish Americans stood with their Muslim-American neighbors against the administration’s cruel travel ban. Eighteen rabbis were arrested as they protested the ban outside Trump Tower in New York.”
Omar correlated the spike in hate attacks, reported by the FBI, to Donald Trump’s presidency.
“The culture of intolerance spread by President Donald Trump has clearly emboldened racist individuals to acts of violence,” she said.
In a synagogue candidates’ forum before the election, she suggested that she did not support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel because it was “counteractive” and prevents dialogue. After the election she told a Muslim publication that she does support BDS.
Omar’s bid to lift a 181-year-old ban on wearing head coverings in Congress has drawn support from Jewish groups.