Thursday, 7 March 2019

Sanders, Harris and Warren defend Ilhan Omar amid controversy over Israel comments:

n The News:



Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday defended Rep. Ilhan Omar against the backlash to her comments slamming pro-Israel groups and politicians, which have been called anti-Semitic.

Sanders, who is Jewish, said criticism of Omar and efforts to get her taken off the House Foreign Affairs Committee, primarily from House Republicans, are aimed at stopping a discussion about American's foreign policy toward Israel.

"What I fear is going on in the House now is an effort to target Congresswoman Omar as a way of stifling that debate," the Vermont independent said in a statement. "That's wrong."

In her own statement, Harris called out all instances of bigotry and expressed concern that the focus on Omar "may put her at risk."

"We all have a responsibility to speak out against anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, racism, and all forms of hatred and bigotry, especially as we see a spike in hate crimes in America," the California Democrat said.

"But like some of my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus, I am concerned that the spotlight being put on Congresswoman Omar may put her at risk," she added. "We should be having a sound, respectful discussion about policy. You can both support Israel and be loyal to our country. I also believe there is a difference between criticism of policy or political leaders, and anti-Semitism. At the end of the day, we need a two-state solution and a commitment to peace, human rights, and democracy by all leaders in the region -- and a commitment by our country to help achieve that."

Later Wednesday evening, Warren added herself to the list of candidates defending the freshman congresswoman.

"We have a moral duty to combat hateful ideologies in our own country and around the world -- and that includes both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia," the Massachusetts Democrat said in a statement. "In a democracy, we can and should have an open, respectful debate about the Middle East that focuses on policy. Branding criticism of Israel as automatically anti-Semitic has a chilling effect on our public discourse and makes it harder to achieve a peaceful solution between Israelis and Palestinians. Threats of violence -- like those made against Rep. Omar -- are never acceptable."

Source: CNN

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