Zeldin accepts Omar’s invitation to discuss religious discrimination over Somali tea

Zeldin accepts Omar’s invitation to discuss religious discrimination over Somali tea
© Getty Images, Greg Nash

Rep. Lee ZeldinLee ZeldinCaring for our seniors during and after coronavirus Top Republicans praise Trump's Flynn pardon Rundown of the House seats Democrats, GOP flipped on Election Day MORE (R-N.Y.) on Friday accepted Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan Omar'It's not a slogan': Progressives push back on Obama's comments on 'defund the police' movement Meet the three Democrats who could lead foreign affairs in the House Biden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far MORE’s (D-Minn.) invitation to discuss religious discrimination over Somali tea after the two lawmakers traded barbs over social media this week.

Zeldin, who is Jewish, on Twitter this week shared a vulgar anti-Semitic voicemail message from a man who wished “Hitler would have done his ... job.” 


“This new VM just came into my office,” Zeldin wrote in a tweet that tagged Omar on Thursday. “This is just another day in my world as an American Jew in Congress. Would love to know what part of this hate filled, anti-Semitic rant you disagree with?"

Omar responded by calling the message “heinous and hateful” and said she is also flooded with similar messages.

A progressive Somali-American from Minnesota, Omar is one of the first two Muslim women in Congress.

“Maybe we could meet and share notes on how to fight religious discrimination of all kinds?” Omar offered. “Maybe over Somali tea, in your old office which I happen to be in now.”


“Let’s do that!” Zeldin responded  “Are you saying you disagree w/everything said in that voice mail? I sure do.” 

He then urged her to support a House resolution he sponsored that rejects anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred, saying it would be a “step in the right direction.” 


It was the latest exchange in a weeklong battle between the two representatives who have accused each other of promoting discrimination.  

Omar retweeted accounts that had called Zeldin “Islamosphobic and sexist” after he criticized her appointment to a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee as “crazy.”

“Don’t mind him, he is just waking up to the reality of having Muslim women as colleagues who know how to stand up to bullies!” the freshman lawmaker tweeted. “It’s gonna be fun watching him lose his marbles.”

Zeldin, who was selected as ranking member of the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, fired back by accusing her of “anti-Semitic & anti-Israel hate.”

“Those poor innocent ISIS fighters & Palestinian terrorists right? Give me a break!” Zeldin tweeted. “That’s a problem no matter your religion or gender Ilhan. Your anti-Semitic & anti-Israel hate is strong & wrong & those terrorists have US blood on their hands as well.”


Zeldin has criticized Omar and Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibBiden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks GOP congresswoman-elect wants to form Republican 'Squad' called 'The Force' MORE (D-Mich.) over their support for the right to boycott Israel. Omar has said she opposes bans on boycotting Israel because it violates Americans' right to protest.

Omar has recently come under fire for past criticism of Israel, including a 2012 tweet in which she wrote: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”


She has since apologized for the tweet, saying she should have put more energy into “disavowing the anti-semitic trope I unknowingly used.”

Omar did not respond to Zeldin’s latest tweet but appeared on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” Thursday evening.

The Minnesota Democrat said her criticisms of Israel have nothing to do with religion or Jewish people, but rather with the government’s treatment of Palestinians.

“What’s important in this conversation is that we separate the land, the people, and the administrations," she said. “When I talk about what we are doing wrong in this country, it's not because I hate this country, it's not because I don't see myself as American. It's because I love this country and because I am American and because I want it to do better.”

Criticism of Saudi Arabia, Israel or Venezuela amid its ongoing political crisis is not Omar criticizing the people, faith or way of life, she said. 

"What I am criticizing is what's happening at the moment, and I want for there to be accountability so that the government, that administration, that regime can do better. Because I believe that we all deserve better and the human collective requires us to speak up when we see something wrong," Omar concluded.