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Sanders, Harris And Warren Defend Ilhan Omar Against Anti-Semitism Claims

Democratic presidential candidates Senators Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday stood behind Representative Ilhan Omar as she continues to face backlash for her controversial comments about pro-Israel groups and politicians, CNN reported.

While the Minnesota congresswoman’s comments have been called anti-Semitic, Sanders said criticism of her is actually about ending 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,” he said in a statement to CNN. “That’s wrong.”

Harris denounced all instances of hate in her own statement. She suggested adding Islamophobia to a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, as “there is no hierarchy of hurt.”

“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,” she said in the statement.

In the evening, Warren spoke up for Omar, as well.

“In a democracy, we can and should have an open, respectful debate about the Middle East that focuses on policy,” she said in a statement. “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.”

Last week, Omar came under fire for making comments that some saw as accusing Jews of possessing dual loyalties. Weeks earlier, she accused pro-Israel lobbying group American Israel Public Affairs Committee of bribing U.S. politicians.

Alyssa Fisher is a writer at the Forward. Email her at fisher@forward.com, or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher

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