With Election Now Over, Ilhan Omar Voices BDS Support

In August, now Rep.-Elect Ilhan Omar told a crowd of more than 1,000 people that the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement was “counteractive” because it wasn’t “helpful in getting a two-state solution.”

Now, less than a week after Omar’s election to Congress representing Minnesota’s Fifth District, Omar is explicitly stating her position as a BDS supporter in what many argue is a contradiction of the stance she took at Beth El Synagogue.

In a statement to the website Muslim Girl, — initially reported by The Forward — and attributed to the Congresswoman-elect’s campaign staff, “Ilhan believes in and supports the BDS movement, and has fought to make sure people’s right to support it isn’t criminalized. She does however, have reservations on the effectiveness of the movement in accomplishing a lasting solution.”

She confirmed that position in a text-message conversation with TC Jewfolk Monday night.

At the Aug. 6 candidate forum at Beth El Synagogue which was co-sponsored by Jewish Community Action, Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, the National Council of Jewish Women Minnesota, and Jewfolk, Inc. (the parent company of TC Jewfolk), Omar unequivocally supported a two-state solution and argued that the BDS Movement was “counteractive” in achieving that outcome.

“I support a two-state solution. It is going to be important for us to recognize Israel’s place in the Middle East and the Jewish people’s rightful place within that region,” she said. “It’s also important to make sure we’re going through a process that we are guaranteeing that to the Palestinians. I believe right now with the BDS movement, it’s not helpful in getting that two-state solution. I look forward to making sure that we are utilizing and being part of a conversation that gets us closer so that we can have peace and make sure there is justice within that.”

Mary Lahammer, the moderator of the forum, asked Omar to specify “exactly where you stand on that.”

“I think the particular purpose for [BDS] is to make sure that there is pressure, and I think that pressure really is counteractive. Because in order for us to have a process of getting to a two-state solution, people have to be willing to come to the table and have a conversation about how that is going to be possible and I think that stops the dialogue,” Omar said. “I want to make sure that we are furthering policies and advocating for things that get people closer to having that conversation.”

Prior to her run for Congress, she posted several Tweets critical of Israel, including accusing it of “hypnotizing the world,” which to many observers echoed centuries-old anti-Semitic canards about secretive Jewish manipulation and control.


The Tweet resurfaced during the start of the campaign in the early summer, when Omar denounced claims of anti-Semitism as “bigotry,” but didn’t – and hasn’t – retracted or deleted the original 2012 Tweet.

As a member of State House of Representatives, Omar voted against a bill in the Minnesota Legislature that prohibits Minnesota from contracting with vendors who discriminate against Israelis; the bipartisan bill passed the House 98-28 and the Senate 57-8, before DFL Gov. Mark Dayton signed it into law.

Video taken by Louis Fine.