NY Times columnist on CNN: Omar 'has come to be a bridge destroyer'

A New York Times columnist argued Saturday that Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarSanders unveils plan for government-funded child care, pre-K Ilhan Omar accuses Meghan McCain of trafficking in 'anti-Muslim smears and hate speech' Sanders wins endorsement of top Muslim group MORE (D-Minn.) missed an opportunity to build bridges between Muslims and Jews in the U.S. with her recent comments about the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and Israel.

In an interview on CNN's "Smerconish," Thomas Friedman said Omar's district, which is composed of sizable Jewish and Somali-American Muslim populations, had teed up the rookie representative to build relationships between the two communities.


"Ilhan Omar represents, I believe, the biggest Jewish community in the whole upper Midwest," Friedman said Saturday. "She represents that community. She also represents a Somali immigrant community that's come to our city since then and added their voice and their richness and their color."

“She was perfectly poised to be a bridge builder between Muslims and Jews, between Arabs and Israelis," Friedman continued. "And rather than come to Washington and be a bridge builder, she has come to be a bridge destroyer."

Friedman's comments on CNN came days after he lambasted the freshman Minnesota congresswoman in a column for The New York Times, writing that Omar had accused American Jews of "dual loyalty" to Israel and the U.S.

"When I see that dual-loyalty charge coming from a congresswoman who first signaled opposition to [the boycott, divest and sanctions movement] and then support for it, when I see it coming from a congresswoman who has never been to Israel ... it makes me suspicious of her motives," Friedman wrote Wednesday.

"If she thinks the only reason that Americans support Israel is because of Aipac and campaign contributions, she is dead wrong," he wrote.

Omar, one of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress and the first Muslim woman to wear a hijab on the House floor, has spent weeks battling charges of anti-Semitism stemming from her tweets and other comments about AIPAC and the U.S. relationship with Israel.

She previously issued an apology after tweeting that GOP lawmakers' threats of "action" against herself and fellow Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibSanders wins endorsement of top Muslim group Don't let 'welfare for all' advocates derail administration's food stamp program reforms Omar endorses progressive Georgia Democrat running for House seat MORE (D-Mich.) for their support of the boycott, divest and sanctions movement was "all about the Benjamins," a remark critics took to play on anti-Semitic stereotypes.