Ilhan Omar and Illinois Dem co-author op-ed on threat of white nationalism

Ilhan Omar and Illinois Dem co-author op-ed on threat of white nationalism
© Greg Nash

Reps. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarHouse approves two-state resolution in implicit rebuke of Trump Al Green calls for including Trump's 'racism' in impeachment articles Republicans disavow GOP candidate who said 'we should hang' Omar MORE (D-Minn.) and Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyThe Hill's Morning Report - Impeachment of Trump resumes Warren receives endorsement from Illinois congresswoman ahead of Chicago rally Overnight Health Care: Trump draws ire after retreat on drug price promise | Harris unveils mental health plan | Dem bill targets violence against women around the world MORE (D-Ill.) urged Muslim and Jewish Americans to come together to confront the threat of white nationalist violence in an editorial for CNN Tuesday.

Omar, one of two Muslim women in Congress, and Schakowsky, who is Jewish, cite the recent example of a gunman accused of killing Lori Gilbert Kaye at San Diego’s Chabad of Poway synagogue, who is also suspected in the arson of a nearby mosque and is said to have been inspired by the killing of 50 worshippers at a New Zealand mosque in March.

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“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. We cannot allow those who seek to divide and intimidate us to succeed,” Omar and Schakowsky write. “Whatever our differences, our two communities, Muslim and Jewish, must come together to confront the twin evils of anti-Semitic and Islamophobic violence.”

The editorial comes in the wake of an ongoing controversy over comments made this week by the only other Muslim woman in Congress, which many Republicans have decried as anti-Semitic. Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibHouse approves two-state resolution in implicit rebuke of Trump House moves ahead on long-stalled resolution supporting two states for Israelis and Palestinians GOP leader says he had 'a hard time' believing Pelosi MORE (D-Mich.) said in an interview that the knowledge that her Palestinian ancestors “lost their land” and “lost their lives” amid an effort “to create a safe haven for Jews” after the Holocaust gave her a "calming feeling." Democrats have defended her and said detractors took her words out of context.

Omar herself faced criticism earlier this year after she criticized the influence of pro-Israeli lobbying groups in American politics using what many saw as anti-Semitic tropes.

In their piece, the congresswomen cite data indicating anti-Semitic assaults increased more than 100 percent in 2018 from the previous year, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which logged nearly 1,900 incidents of anti-Semitic assault, vandalism or harassment, making it the highest year since it began tracking such incidents in 1979.

Anti-Muslim incidents, meanwhile, increased to 300 in 2017 from 260 the year before, and the Council on American Islamic Relations found 2,600 incidents of anti-Muslim bias.

The two also criticize what they say is President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he will 'temporarily hold off' on declaring Mexican drug cartels as terror organization House Judiciary Committee formally receives impeachment report Artist behind gold toilet offered to Trump sells banana duct-taped to a wall for 0,000 MORE’s failure to take the threat seriously, citing his response to the deadly white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, and his recent defense of his remarks, telling the National Rifle Association last month that some of the rally attendees were simply people who “felt very strongly about the statue of Robert E. Lee.”

They cite what they call policy moves echoing this rhetoric, such as the Department of Homeland Security’s disbanding of a group of intelligence analysts focused on domestic terrorism shortly before the Poway shooting.

But the two also write about examples of the two communities coming together, such as a Pittsburgh Jewish group’s raising of money for victims of the Christchurch, New Zealand, shooting, as well as a crowdfunding campaign started by two Islamic groups that raised more than $55,000 for the victims of the 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the deadliest anti-Semitic killing in American history.

“White nationalists win when our two communities are divided. They seek to exploit our divisions and grievances to further an agenda of hate. But we know that when [we] are united, we are stronger,” they write. “We know this because in our own communities, Jewish and Muslim constituents have joined hands in solidarity and denounced these hate-filled massacres.”