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Opinion: Ilhan Omar, a luke-warm candidate

Anti-Israel sentiment causes hesitation

A+sign+advocating+for+the+election+of+Ilhan+Omar+for+congress+stands+in+the+lawn+of+a+St.+Louis+Park+resident.+
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Opinion: Ilhan Omar, a luke-warm candidate

A sign advocating for the election of Ilhan Omar for congress stands in the lawn of a St. Louis Park resident.

A sign advocating for the election of Ilhan Omar for congress stands in the lawn of a St. Louis Park resident.

Gabriel Kaplan

A sign advocating for the election of Ilhan Omar for congress stands in the lawn of a St. Louis Park resident.

Gabriel Kaplan

Gabriel Kaplan

A sign advocating for the election of Ilhan Omar for congress stands in the lawn of a St. Louis Park resident.

Gabriel Kaplan

State Representative Ilhan Omar will be able to serve the 5th Congressional District using a national voice unlike that of any recent 5th District representative, but her past comments on Israel are concerning.

Following Omar’s Democratic Primary win on August 14, the candidate is on track to become Congress’s first Muslim, Somali congresswoman. That achievement, in addition to her liberal policies, has given her a national platform, unlike most other first term representatives. If utilized correctly, it will allow her to give the district a unique voice in the workings of national politics.

In addition to her national influence, Omar has a history of effectiveness as a junior politician, evident in her rise to Assistant Minority Leader in the Minnesota House of Representatives in just her first term. This will be a refreshing change from Omar’s wholly ineffective predecessor, Representative Keith Ellison, who was so incompetent that he only managed to pass a mere two bills in over a decade.

Once elected, Omar will become one of only a few millennials in Congress, allowing her to connect with and serve the youth in her district especially well, including those in St. Louis Park.

Her experience as a millennial has also rubbed off on her proposed policies, such as her support for making preschool education and public university free for all.

It seems the only downside to having Omar represent SLP in Congress are her past controversial statements on Israel, a key issue to the large Jewish community in St. Louis Park and the broader district.

The first of her contentious statements was made on Twitter in 2012, following an Israeli Defense Force operation in Gaza in response to the firing of over 100 missiles into Israel by Hamas in a single day.

“Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel,” Omar wrote.

Her second comment was posted May 31 of this year and was an attempted rebuttal to an online critic who had called her a “Jew Hater” in response to her first tweet. Omar missed the point and only doubled-down on her past anti-Israel claims.

“Drawing attention to the apartheid Israeli regime is far from hating Jews,” Omar tweeted.

Both of the tweets are unquestionably anti-Israel and based on egregious misconceptions. The first seems to claim Israel is an evil state, despite the fact that the nation had simply acted in its own self defense against a terrorist organization.

The second one claims Israel is an apartheid, authoritarian state, which is far from the truth; within the Middle East, Israel is the only democracy and the only nation to host equal rights for all within its borders.

These comments on Israel pose a threat to the tens of thousands of Jews throughout District Five and St. Louis Park.

More recently, at one of the precursor Democratic debates leading up to the primary, Omar came out as a strong supporter of  a two-state solution, in addition to claiming the boycott movement against Israel “is not helpful in getting (the) two-state solution.”

While these comments are reassuring, they alone are not enough to disavow her past statements and relieve the Jewish community.

If Omar is to represent the 5th Congressional District, she must stand for all her constituents and for all that they stand for as well, regardless of her own ill-considered misunderstandings.

Unless Omar can reassure the Jewish community that her hostile views on Israel have changed, she will be unable to represent 5th District Jews and by extent, unable to represent the district as a whole due to the integration of Jews throughout the district’s schools, businesses and social communities.

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About the Writer
Gabriel Kaplan, Opinions Editor

Hi! My name is Gabe Kaplan, I’m a sophomore this year and a new staff writer for the Echo. I couldn’t be more excited for the year! Outside of writing...

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Opinion: Ilhan Omar, a luke-warm candidate