The following statement was delivered by USCPR Acting Director Ramah Kudaimi on March 6, 2019 in front of the U.S. Supreme Court at a press conference of progressive, Muslim, Jewish, and Palestinian leaders to announce a letter of support for Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) in the face of the introduction of a resolution unfairly singling her out for criticism over false charges of antisemitism. The letter of support calls on Democratic Party leaders to equally condemn anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, anti-Black racism, xenophobia, and physical threats against any members of Congress.
WASHINGTON, DC, MARCH 6, 2019—Representative Ilhan Omar—the most unapologetically progressive voice we have in Congress—is not the first person to speak up on Palestine. Rep. Omar is not the only member of Congress to name Israel for what it is—a separate and unequal apartheid regime that controls nearly every aspect of Palestinians’ lives. Apartheid is more than a buzzword.
Apartheid—the system that Rep. Omar, Rep. Betty McCollum, and people of conscience condemn—is the violent theft of Palestinian land and resources; it is racial profiling; it is the targeting of civilians; it is mass incarceration of Palestinian men and boys; it is the denial of return for seven million Palestinian refugees; it is the military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip; and it is relegating Palestinian citizens of Israel to a second-class status in their own homeland.
Rep. Omar is doing no more than asserting that Palestinian rights are human rights. And yet, pro-Israel forces are trying to make an example of her due to her positionality as a Black, Muslim, refugee woman. This is what racism looks like. Her support of Palestinians is an inherent and natural part of her progressive politics. Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity, and targeting leaders who assert that is inexcusable.
The resolution that the Democratic leadership wanted to introduce—and the one that our voices are making them reconsider—is making it painfully obvious how out of touch they are with the truly progressive politics of their base that necessarily include Palestinian freedom, justice, and equality as part of issues of economic, racial, immigration, environmental, LGBTQIA, and gender justice.
The real antisemitism and hatred are not coming from progressive leaders that are standing up for the rights of the Palestinian people. Antisemitism is coming from the current presidential administration and the Republican Party that have chosen to deepen their relationship with white supremacists, white nationalists, and right-wing Israeli forces—forces that thrive on Islamophobia and racism. That is where the Democratic leadership should be focusing their attention.
Instead of joining Rep. Omar in her principled stance against the forces of white supremacy, antisemitism, racism, and xenophobia, by targeting her with this resolution, the Democratic leadership is betraying the values of freedom, justice, and equality for all people. By singling out Rep. Omar for criticism, Speaker Pelosi is implying that attacks on Muslim, refugee, women of color for their political stances are acceptable. The Democratic leadership is opening Rep. Omar and anyone who looks like her up to more violence. In doing so, they are making themselves complicit in the current atmosphere of intense repression and fear—an atmosphere that is full of xenophobic, racist, Islamophobic dog whistles—and shouts—from the Trump administration and the GOP.
We know that justice is indivisible. We believe in the possibility of freedom, justice, and equality for the Palestinian people in a world without racism and oppression. We know that all forms of oppression are interconnected and reinforce each other. We know—and Rep. Ilhan Omar knows— that work for justice for one community must be part of a vision of justice for all. That is what the Democratic leadership must understand. And that is why we stand with Ilhan.