Comments Made By Omar Are Threatening To Divide District’s Jewish And Somali Residents

Comments Made By Omar Are Threatening To Divide District’s Jewish And Somali Residents March 11, 2021

Thomas Friedman, a columnist for the New York Times, wrote an article about his connection to Rep. Ilhan Omar from Minnesota. Friedman was raised in Minnesota, and explains that the district is a “crazy mix of Minnesota Jews (we called ourselves “the Frozen Chosen”) that welcomed Somali refugees like the 37-year-old (Ilhan Omar) a half-century later and elected her to Congress.”

According to the Washington Post, Minnesota did welcome refugees from Somalia in 1993, and even though they had obvious cultural differences, the groups brought themselves together to work towards the common good. Unfortunately, the recent comments made by Omar have put a bit of a strain on the relationships in the community.

An activist for the Somalian community, Omar Jamal, explained to the Washington Post that he has been in touch with the leaders of the Jewish community after Omar made her comments. He explained that he was supporting her campaign, but her recent comments were “wrong, period.” He was quoted saying: “This is up to Ilhan Omar. She has really spoken in a very dangerous way, and it’s going to be up to her to reach out to people and fix this.”

According to the Washington Post, a Jewish leader apparently showed Omar a picture of a cousin who was killed during WWII and explained that that was the reason why questioning a person’s dual loyalty is offensive. Avi. S. Olitzky, a senior rabbi from St. Louis Park in the Fifth District, spoke to The Star-Tribune and said that the comments made by Omar have been a blatant attack on the Jewish community.

Omar has apologized for her comments and has total support from her Democratic colleagues. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke about Omar on Friday, saying that she “doesn’t understand” that the words she uses at times are “fraught with meaning.” Omar also took a stab at former President Obama, saying that his message of “hope” and “change” was nothing more than a “mirage.”

In an interview with Politico, Omar spoke about “Recalling the ‘caging of kids’ at the U.S.-Mexico border and the ‘droning of countries around the world’ on Obama’s watch,” and she claimed that Obama “operated within the same fundamentally broken framework as his Republican successor.” Omar also said that “We can’t be only upset with Trump… His policies are bad, but many of the people who came before him also had really bad policies. They just were more polished than he was.”

Omar’s words have been accepted and embraced by some, but her advocates think that her attack on AIPAC is a bit bold. Amber Harris, one of Omar’s supporters, has said that the attacks against Omar are “obscene” and unfair. “She’s trying to change the Democratic Party to what I think it should be,” she said.

Thomas Friedman explained in his article that he actually has a lot in common with Omar, but his dislike of AIPAC is completely based on the fact that it has “let itself become the slavish, unthinking tool of Netanyahu, who opposes a two-state solution, I believe AIPAC works against Israel’s long-term interests.” He also explained that he’s seen evidence that suggests that Omar’s obvious dislike for AIPAC is based on her dislike for Israel.

“Ilhan Omar represents, among other neighborhoods, a significant and liberal Jewish community — my hometown. I can tell you that a vast majority of Jews there would be proud if their congresswoman used her links to American Jews and Muslims to be a bridge builder for peace in the Middle East and America, not just another AIPAC/Israel basher,” explained Friedman.

“She is young and very new to the national spotlight. Friends of mine back home tell me her humanistic instincts are impressive and authentic. I don’t know if it’s her or her advisers, but she’s gotten herself into a bad place — a huge missed leadership opportunity,” said Friedman.