On November 16, 2012, Somali-born Minnesota state Rep. Ilhan Omar (D), who’s currently running for the state’s 5th Congressional District seat, sent out the following tweet:
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) November 16, 2012
In May of this year, Twitter user John Gilmore dug up the six-year-old tweet, forcing Omar to defend herself.
She responded: “Drawing attention to the apartheid Israeli regime is far from hating Jews. You are a hateful sad man, I pray to Allah you get the help you need and find happiness.”
Drawing attention to the apartheid Israeli regime is far from hating Jews. You are a hateful sad man, I pray to Allah you get the help you need and find happiness. https://t.co/SvEXjlxlEN
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) May 31, 2018
Omar’s initial tweet came three days after “Palestinian terrorists in Gaza launched more than 150 rockets at Israel” from November 10-13, 2012, reports the Jewish Virtual Library.
On November 14, the Israeli Air Force killed Ahmad Jabari in an air strike. Jabari, the military commander of Hamas, was allegedly responsible for, or instrumental in, multiples terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians and military personnel since the 1990s.
On November 15, another terrorist-launched rocket killed three Israeli civilians. This and other rocket launches from Palestinian militants in Gaza prompted Israel to initiate Operation Pillar of Defense.
According to Israel’s official New York consulate website, during the operation, “the IDF targeted over 1,500 terror sites including 19 senior command centers, operational control centers and Hamas’ senior-rank headquarters, 30 senior operatives, damaging Hamas’ command and control, hundreds of underground rocket launchers, 140 smuggling tunnels, 66 terror tunnels, dozens of Hamas operation rooms and bases, 26 weapon manufacturing and storage facilities and dozens of long-range rocket launchers and launch sites.”
Omar defended herself against charges of anti-Semitism in a July interview with ABC News, saying: “These accusations are without merit. They are rooted in bigotry toward a belief about what Muslims are stereotyped to believe.”
The oft-repeated notion that Israel is an “apartheid” nation is incorrect on multiple grounds. Perhaps the most succinct refutation of this idea comes from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which writes:
Arab citizens of Israel enjoy the full range of civil and political rights, including the right to organize politically, the right to vote and the right to speak and publish freely. Israeli Arabs and other non-Jewish Israelis serve as members of Israel’s security forces, are elected to parliament and appointed to the country’s highest courts. They are afforded equal educational opportunities, and there are ongoing initiatives to further improve the economic standing of all of Israel’s minorities.
With a quick Google search, one can find many other pieces countering the claim that Israel is an apartheid state. South African-born journalist Benjamin Pogrund writes in The New York Times:
Suicide bombings and murders by ramming pedestrians with vehicles never happened in South Africa. Yet Israel has had them aplenty. Security concerns have dictated Israel’s precautions and responses, not an ideology of apartheid racism. …South African apartheid rigidly enforced racial laws. Israel is not remotely comparable.
Even Pogrund, who is vocally and vociferously critical of Israel on numerous fronts, admits that the only democracy in the Middle East is not remotely comparable to South African apartheid.
Although there hasn’t been any polling for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight predicts a strong win by Omar on November 6, considering the 5th is “51.8 points more Democratic than the nation overall.”