Ilhan Omar Set To Join New Black-Jewish Caucus In Congress

Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota
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Rep. Ilhan Omar, one of the first two Muslim women elected to the United States Congress, has been at the center of multiple anti-Semitism controversies so far this year. But now, the Minnesota Congresswoman is joining an organization with some of her Jewish colleagues.

Omar plans to join the Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations, her staff confirmed to The Forward Thursday. The Caucus was newly formed earlier this week and is expected to be formally approved for recognition soon.

The Caucus is bipartisan, and founding members include Rep. John Lewis of Georgia. The Civil Rights movement giant is joined by Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Rep. Will Hurd, an African American Republican from Texas.

Congresswoman Omar and Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, a fellow Democrat who is Jewish, had authored an op-ed together for CNN last month, in which they called on people of all faiths to join together against white nationalism.

“As a Muslim American and a Jewish American elected to the United States Congress, we can no longer sit silently as terror strikes our communities,” the two Congresswomen wrote in a piece published shortly after the Chabad shooting in California. “Whatever our differences, our two communities, Muslim and Jewish, must come together to confront the twin evils of anti-Semitic and Islamophobic violence.”

Omar, who represents a district in Minnesota with large populations of both Jews and African Americans, drew huge controversy earlier this year when she made a reference on Twitter to “all about the Benjamins” while criticizing the pro-Israel lobbying organization AIPAC, and later, after apologizing, she referenced “the political influence in this country that says it is OK to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” per The Washington Post. This led to another round of criticism of Omar for trafficking in stereotypical tropes involving Jews, money and dual loyalty.

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The Congresswoman has also received threats this year, including one that was scrawled on a gas station bathroom in her district. The West Virginia Republican Party, around the same time, distributed a poster with a picture of Omar juxtaposed with the 9/11 attacks.

Omar was later part of a controversy in which she mentioned those attacks, in reference to civil rights for Muslims, which led to a critical tweet from President Trump on April 12.

A native of Somalia who came to the U.S. as a refugee, Rep. Omar was elected to Congress in 2018, taking the seat formerly held by Rep. Keith Ellison.