Congresswoman Ilhan Omar signed a letter to extend the United Nations arms embargo on Iran, a policy backed by President Trump and a major American advocacy group for Israel.
Omar joined 390 other members of the House — Democrat and Republican — in signing the letter. The letter was also a key policy item for American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), an organization with which Omar has sparred in the past.
The Trump administration seeks to extend the worldwide embargo on selling arms to Iran. The embargo expires in October as the first sunset provision under the 2015 nuclear deal, and Iran has indicated that Russia and China are interested in selling the Islamic Republic combat aircraft once the embargo expires.
The congressional letter is addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who supports the efforts and has been “evaluating every possibility” to stop the UN from lifting the embargo.
Omar’s backing of the embargo is a welcome surprise considering the fact that she recently joined 30 other members of Congress in petitioning President Trump to suspend U.S. sanctions on Iran.
(Under current U.S. sanctions, Iran claims it is limited in its ability to import medicine and specialized medical equipment to combat the coronavirus. However, Iran has continually refused assistance from the U.S. to fight the virus, instead pushing a conspiracy theory claiming that the virus is a man-made disease manufactured by the U.S. and, according to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, “specifically built for Iran using the genetic data of Iranians.”)
The fact that Omar was big enough to sign on to a policy supported not only by Trump but AIPAC as well is equally welcome. Omar made disparaging and antisemitic remarks about AIPAC in February 2019, when she tweeted out classic antisemitic tropes about the organization and Jews.
Commenting on the relationship between the U.S. and Israel, in a now-deleted tweet, Omar wrote, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby 🎶 ”
Omar was referring to Jewish money (“Benjamins” being $100 bills) and its assumed influence on American politicians.
In response, Batya Ungar-Sargon, the opinion editor of The Forward tweeted, “Would love to know who @IlhanMN thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel.”
In another now-deleted tweet, Omar wrote “AIPAC!”
The remarks came less than a month after Omar “apologized” for tweeting other antisemitic statements.
Omar’s classic use of antisemitic tropes caused outrage on Capitol Hill.
Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley weighed in at the time, tweeting, “To see this at the UN was a fight every day. This CANNOT be tolerated in our own Congress by anyone of either party. In a time of increased anti semitism, we all must be held to account. No excuses.”
All told, does joining President Trump, AIPAC and 390 other members of Congress in calling for an extension of the arms embargo on Iran mean that Ilhan Omar is turning over a new leaf? Doubtful.
Should she be commended for being on the right side of this issue? Absolutely.
Editor’s note: Clarion Project is an apolitical organization. All commentary on politics is fact-based and solely for the purpose of fulfilling our mission of educating the public about the dangers of ideological extremism.