Ilhan Omar deserves our support for standing strong

Last week, Adalah Justice Project, with our partners-- Adalah, the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights and the Center for Constitutional Rights--were on Capitol Hill.

We met with 12 Congressional offices to promote our understanding of a progressive foreign policy.  

We had an uplifting conversation with Representative Ilhan Omar about our shared vision where freedom, justice, and equality are values that drive both domestic and foreign policy. Rep. Omar’s commitment to human rights, her understanding that U.S. policy has a real and immediate impact on people beyond our borders, and her consistent application of progressive values across issues is to be commended.

During this meeting, our colleague Soheir Asaad, International Advocacy Coordinator at the Adalah Legal Center in Haifa provided an overview of the legal infrastructure and tactics Israel uses to confiscate Palestinian land on both sides of the Green Line and subjugate Palestinians, regardless of their citizenship status. Vince Warren, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, connected Israeli policies and practices to systems of oppression in the United States such as the asylum ban, the border wall and separation of families. In Rep. Omar and many of the other offices we visited, we found openness and enthusiasm to change the discourse in Washington to better reflect the grassroots consensus that Palestinians deserve freedom, equality and justice.

Rep. Omar, in line with a long legacy of Black leaders, has taken a strong stance in favor of Palestinian rights and in support of a progressive foreign policy that holds Israel accountable for human rights abuses. In recent months, other Black leaders like Angela Davis, Michelle Alexander, and Marc Lamont Hill, have been demonized and attacked for their principled solidarity with the Palestinian people, rooted in a deep understanding of how racism and oppression work against communities of color.

Rep. Omar is under attack for stating what is fact: The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)  is a powerful, big-money lobbying group that influences elected officials to support Israel’s racist policies.

For many decades, AIPAC’s power in Washington has been acknowledged by journalists, decision-makers, and AIPAC itself. Rep. Omar’s remarks ignited outrage, not because the information was false or new, but because she is a Muslim, woman of color who is boldly challenging the status quo in Washington of unwavering support for Israel.  The attacks against her are permissible and celebrated because of anti-Black, anti-Muslim and misogynist attitudes.

AIPAC is at the center of this media storm. AIPAC lobbies Members of Congress to support Israel’s confiscation of Palestinian land, the jailing of Palestinian children, and the killing of unarmed Palestinian protesters. AIPAC mobilizes people to give campaign contributions to officials and candidates who support their positions on Israel. In the 2018 midterm elections, pro-Israel lobbies, including AIPAC, gave nearly $15 million to political candidates (not including the $123 million Sheldon Adelson gave to Republicans.)

Campaign finance reform has been an agenda item for the progressive left for some time. It is uncontroversial to say that money drives politics in Washington. This is just the latest example of how Palestine is set apart from the progressive agenda.

Adalah Justice Project has built a beautiful coalition of leaders and organizers across social justice movements who are ready to amplify our message that the time for equality and justice for Palestinians is now. Rep. Omar and many of her new colleagues in Congress were elected by us, people committed to equality and justice for all people.

We’ve won the grassroots. We are destined to win Congress too.

Join us by signing our letter to Rep. Omar offering support and solidarity.

Thank you for being a part of our beautiful coalition.

With love and solidarity,

Sandra Tamari
Acting Director
Adalah Justice Project