Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has asserted that Israel is the homeland of the Palestinian people.
In an op-ed published late Sunday on the Washington Post website, Omar wrote that “the founding of Israel 70 years ago was built on the Jewish people’s connection to their historical homeland, as well as the urgency of establishing a nation in the wake of the horror of the Holocaust and the centuries of antisemitic oppression leading up to it. Many of the founders of Israel were themselves refugees who survived indescribable horrors.
“We must acknowledge that this is also the historical homeland of Palestinians,” she continued.
The Muslim congresswoman said that “without a state, the Palestinian people live in a state of permanent refugeehood and displacement. This, too, is a refugee crisis, and they, too, deserve freedom and dignity.”
Omar is herself a survivor of war and a refugee. She wrote about how she fled Somalia at age 8 and then lived for four years in a refugee camp in Kenya, “where I experienced and witnessed unspeakable suffering from those who, like me, had lost everything because of war.”
She called on the United States to approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a “balanced, inclusive” way that recognizes the shared desire for security and freedom of both peoples.
“I support a two-state solution, with internationally recognized borders, which allows for both Israelis and Palestinians to have their own sanctuaries and self-determination,” she wrote. “This has been official bipartisan U.S. policy across two decades and has been supported by each of the most recent Israeli and Palestinian leaders, as well as the consensus of the Israeli security establishment.”
She noted that to achieve peace in the region, everyone involved must be held accountable for their actions.
“When I criticize certain Israeli government actions in Gaza or settlements in the West Bank, it is because I believe these actions not only threaten the possibility of peace in the region — they also threaten the United States’ own national security interests,” Omar said.
The column comes on the backdrop of several statements by Omar, who represents Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, that were marked as antisemitic by Democrats and Republicans alike. Last month, she accused AIPAC of paying officials to be pro-Israel. She has also appeared as a keynote speaker at more than one event sponsored by anti-Israel and/or Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions-supporting organizations,
Even before taking office, in 2012 she tweeted that Israel had “hypnotized” the world, which many people thought then bought into age-old antisemitic motifs.
The Jewish people originated in the land of Israel, and have maintained physical, cultural and religious ties to it ever since. Jews believe that Israel was given to them by God, as described in the Bible.
The word Palestine derives from Philistia, the name given by Greek writers to the land of the Philistines, who in the 12th century BCE occupied a small pocket of land on the southern coast, between modern Tel Aviv–Yafo and Gaza.
Palestine as a state did not exist until in 1947, the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine was voted.
The history of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict began with the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. This conflict came from the intercommunal violence in Mandatory Palestine between Israelis and Arabs from 1920 and erupted into full-scale hostilities in the 1947 to 1948 civil war.