Minneapolis, MN – A group calling itself Patriots United put out a racist, anti-Muslim call for Minnesotans to come out on February 17 to protest U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar at her office near Target Field in Minneapolis. Jewish Voice for Peace-Twin Cities called for a counter-protest and over 80 people came out strong with signs like “Jews for Ilhan” and “Minnesotans against Islamophobia” against Patriots United’s contingent of six people, holding three signs and two American flags.
Newly elected Representative Omar, of Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, which includes Minneapolis, started a national conversation on February 11 about the role of AIPAC, the American-Israel Political Action Committee, when she tweeted in response to the influence of Zionist lobbyists in Washington DC, that Congress’ stance on support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins.”
Since her tweet, both Democrats and Republicans, including the Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, have denounced her as anti-Semitic. However, the Wall Street Journal reports that AIPAC raises over $100 million a year to influence American politics in favor of Israel.
Omar is a Somali refugee and is now one of the first two Muslim women ever elected to Congress. While leaders of both parties have falsely accused her of promoting anti-Jewish tropes, they have been silent as racists have used this controversy to make racist and anti-Muslim attacks on her.
After rallying for an hour, several people spoke to the crowd gathered in front of Omar’s office. Joe Norcross, representing Jewish Voice for Peace, declared, “We in Jewish Voice for Peace Twin Cities deplore the false accusations of anti-Semitism against Representative Ilhan Omar and support her in calling out the undue influence of AIPAC in U.S. politics. Omar need not apologize. AIPAC is an organization dedicated to maintaining Israel’s apartheid regime of occupation and ethnic cleansing in the West Bank and Gaza. It spent $3.25 million in 2018 lobbying numerous congressmembers of both parties.”
Norcross continued, “Unrelenting and dangerous attacks on Omar promote a false stereotype that Muslims unequivocally hate Jews and that Palestinian solidarity is motivated by anti-Semitism rather than by the belief that colonized people deserve justice!”
CJ McCormick spoke for the Anti-War Committee: “The American political establishment seeks to silence people like Omar, whose bold interrogation of Elliott Abrams about his war crimes in El Salvador illuminate that U.S. military intervention is not about ‘democracy’. Whether Democrats or Republicans, American politicians have always pushed for more military intervention abroad.”
McCormick concluded, “We find Ilhan Omar’s courage to speak out against U.S.-backed oppression inspiring. We fully support her in her solidarity with Palestinians, Venezuelans, Muslims, Somalis and all the other oppressed peoples of the world.”
The crowd was also greeted by Dakota elder Dr. Chris Mato Nunpa, who reminded the anti-Omar protesters that they were on stolen land and that if they believe that Somali refugees like Omar should leave that they should join them because they too are immigrants.
Originally, Patriots United had bragged that they were going to march to the West Bank to intimidate and threaten the Somali community, but after seeing the large response and that their numbers were so slim – they retreated.