Rep. Ilhan Omar defends Israel criticism

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Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., in an appearance Thursday on “The Daily Show,” attempted to explain her heated rhetoric toward countries like Israel.

Host Trevor Noah specifically asked her about a tweet from 2012 claiming that Israel had “hypnotized the world,” which Noah noted stems from an anti-Semitic “stigma.”

“How do you find that balance between criticizing people but also not looking like you’re condemning mass groups of people as opposed to governance?” Noah asked.

Omar, who previously has expressed regret over that tweet, responded by saying she had to “take a deep breath” and “understand where people were coming from and what point they were trying to make.”

“What is important in this conversation is that we separate the land, the people, and administrations. When I talk about what we are going wrong in this country, it’s not because I hate this country, it’s not because don’t see myself as American. It’s because I love this country and because I am an American and I want it to do better,” Omar said. “And so when I talk about places like Saudi Arabia or, you know, Israel, or right now Venezuela, I’m not criticizing the people, I’m not criticizing their faith, I’m not criticizing their way of life. What I am criticizing is what’s happening at the moment and I want for there to be accountability so that the government … can do better.”

Omar also discussed the historic nature of her victory in the 2018 midterms as the first Somali-American elected to Congress. Further, she was asked about how the country will pay for various ambitious proposals like “Medicare-for-all” and free college tuition if America “doesn’t have the money.”

“America has money. Money isn’t — we don’t have a problem of scarcity really. What we have is a problem of moral courage. Our budgets are supposed to be an example of our moral values. And so this is why I got on the Budget Committee because I’m excited to make sure that we have a budget that’s reflective of our values,” Omar said. “So what we need to do is we need to make sure that we are prioritizing and funding policies that create positive impact in people’s day-to-day lives. We have been prioritizing in enriching the wealthy. … And so we need to make sure that we’re holding the special interest accountable, that we’re getting money out of politics, that we are taxing the uber-rich, that the one percent pays their fair share.”


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