Skip To Content
Fast Forward

The Ilhan Omar Controversy: What Is Happening?

The latest talk on Capitol Hill is about Representative Ilhan Omar and her most recent controversial comments, which have been called anti-Semitic. The comments led to a backlash, which led to the drafting of a resolution, which led to more backlash, which led to…there’s been a lot to keep up with.

Where did it begin?

We could go back to 2012, when Omar tweeted that “Israel has hypnotized the world” during the war with Gaza. The tweet resurfaced in late January, and she apologized for the “ugly sentiment.”

Or, on February 10, when she said that she believes that AIPAC bribes politicians

Ilhan Omar

Ilhan Omar Image by Getty Images

to be pro-Israel.

The current situation began soon after she apologized and deleted tweets criticized for being anti-Semitic.

February 28: Several hundred people crammed into a bookstore cafe in Washington, D.C., to hear Omar, of Minnesota, speak on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at a “progressive Town Hall” with Representative Rashida Tlaib, of Michigan. Both are freshman congresswomen and Muslim.

“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” Omar said, starting a conversation in response to her past anti-Semitism allegations.

She didn’t say what she meant by “political influence,” but her opponents saw a pattern — and an accusation of dual loyalty. It seemed to them, drawing on Omar’s past comments, that she was sharing an anti-Semitic trope about how Jews’ connection to Israel makes them disloyal to the United States.

March 3: Omar didn’t back down. In response to criticism from Congresswoman Nita Lowey, who suggested she be removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, she wrote: “Our democracy is built on debate, Congresswoman! I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.”

March 4: House Democrats reveal plans to draft a resolution condemning anti-Semitism.

March 6: Speaker Nancy Pelosi called an emergency meeting to discuss the resolution, which the Congressional Black Caucus claimed singled out Omar. It criticized the “insidious, bigoted history” of “accusations of dual loyalty.” Despite the involvement of congressional members on both sides of the debate, the meeting ended without a final decision.

Democratic presidential candidates Senators Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren vocalized their support for Omar.

March 7: House Democrats released a resolution condemning both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

Alyssa Fisher is a writer at the Forward. Email her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning journalism this Passover.

In this age of misinformation, our work is needed like never before. We report on the news that matters most to American Jews, driven by truth, not ideology.

At a time when newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall. That means for the first time in our 126-year history, Forward journalism is free to everyone, everywhere. With an ongoing war, rising antisemitism, and a flood of disinformation that may affect the upcoming election, we believe that free and open access to Jewish journalism is imperative.

Readers like you make it all possible. Right now, we’re in the middle of our Passover Pledge Drive and we need 500 people to step up and make a gift to sustain our trustworthy, independent journalism.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Our Goal: 500 gifts during our Passover Pledge Drive!

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.