February 22, 2019
News Press Release Uncategorized

ZOA To HIAS: Retract HIAS’s Praise For Anti-Semite Rep. Omar

Rep. Omar Illustrates the Dangers to Jews and All Americans of Poorly Vetted Immigration
Rep. Ilhan Omar (credit: Leah Mills/Reuters)

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:

“In light of Rep Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) vicious anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, anti-American statements and positions, the Zionist Organization of America respectfully urges refugee resettlement contractor HIAS, Inc. to retract its statements honoring radical Muslim Rep. Ilhan Omar, especially including HIAS’s statement that Omar is “an inspiration for refugees around the world” and HIAS’s celebration of Omar’s congressional victory in Nov. 2018. This HIAS support of Rep. Omar was well after her vicious anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, anti-American statements!

On July 20, 2017, HIAS posted a picture on its Facebook page of Ilhan Omar together with HIAS President Mark Hetfield, along with links to an “Ilhan for Congress” Facebook page and Ilhan’s bio, and this HIAS statement:  

“We’re so honored to have hosted Representative Ilhan Omar for meetings at The White House and Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) this week! Representative Ilhan Omar is an inspiration to refugees around the world. Learn more about her: https://www.ilhanomar.com/bio/ #RefugeesWelcome #WithRefugees”

On June 22, 2018, HIAS published a blog post on its website entitled “On World Refugee Day, HIAS and Partners Spread Welcome,” which portrayed Ilhan Omar as a partner of the organization. 

And, on November 7, 2018, HIAS publicly celebrated Ilhan Omar’s Congressional win on its blog.

By this point in time, Omar already had a record of vicious anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and anti-American statements, prior to all of HIAS’ above-mentioned activities that praised Omar and displayed HIAS’ partnership with her. For instance:

In an interview in 2013 with Hamas supporter Ahmed Tharwat, Omar blamed US “involvement in other people’s affairs” for terrorism, and complained that Americans say the names “Al Qaeda,” “Al Shabaab” and “Hezbollah” as if those names were a bad thing.  

In 2016, Omar sought compassion for and reduced sentences for Somali ISIS terrorists.  (See “Rep. Ilhan Omar Asks Judge for Compassion in ISIS Recruit Sentencing,” KMSP-Fox 9, Nov 10, 2016.) 

And back in 2012, Omar falsely called Israel “evil” and said Israel “hypnotized the world.”  

Moreover, as ZOA previously explained, Omar condemned Israel as “evil” one day after Hamas rockets murdered 3 innocent Israelis, in the midst of a week-long bombardment during which Hamas shot 1,456 rockets at Israel in an attempt to murder even more innocent Jews. (See ZOA Disagrees With ADL’s Greenblatt’s Praise/Acceptance of Phony Apology of Antisemitic Israel-Hater Rep. Omar (D-MN),” Jan. 28, 2019.)

Omar had also falsely called Israel an “apartheid regime,” before HIAS issued its latter two blogs and before HIAS partnered with Rep. Omar on World Refugee Day.  

And Omar had already attacked news columnist John Gilmore as a “hateful sad man,” for daring to challenge Omar’s anti-Semitic statements about Israel “hypnotizing the world” and “the evil doings of Israel.”   

But, to give HIAS the benefit of the doubt: Maybe HIAS didn’t vet Ilhan Omar’s statements and positions before partnering with her and praising her as “an inspiration to refugees around the world”? 

But surely, HIAS knows about Omar’s hateful record now, after so many recent news reports. Especially because Omar’s record has grown even worse in the weeks since HIAS celebrated Omar’s election to Congress.  

Omar is now promoting anti-Israel boycotts, after lying about her BDS position while running for Congress. In recent weeks, Omar also made false anti-Semitic claims that Jewish lobby money buys Congress, falsely claimed that Lindsey Graham is “compromised,” and abused her position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee to rudely lambaste Jewish U.S. Envoy to Venezuela Elliott Abrams, without giving him an opportunity to respond. She also issued phony non-apologies that she immediately backtracked on.    

Omar has moreover never apologized for calling Israel “evil” and “an apartheid regime,” or for blaming terrorism on U.S. involvements, or for seeking reduced sentences for Somali-American terrorists, or for supporting BDS or for most of the rest of her terrible record. And all of Omar’s tweets spewing anti-Israel hatred are still up on her twitter site.  

HIAS was also involved with the previous occupant of Ilhan Omar’s Congressional seat, Israel-basher Keith Ellison. In February 2017, Ellison headlined an anti-Trump rally in New York, organized by HIAS.  (See Breitbart: Federally-Funded Refugee Resettlement Contractor, HIAS, Organized NY Rally Against Trump: And, a featured speaker was Congressman Keith Ellison,” by Ann Corcoran, Refugee Resettlement Watch, Feb. 14, 2017. See also pictures of Ellison at the HIAS podium here and here.)

Ellison has a long history of making anti-Semitic comments, working with Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic Nation of Islam, voting against pro-Israel legislation, spearheading anti-Israel Congressional letters (including the infamous “Gaza 54” letter to end the Gaza weapons blockade – which would enable Hamas to import more rockets to kill Israeli civilians), tweeting false anti-Israel accusations, and sponsoring and speaking at anti-Israel, anti-Semitic anti-American conferences.  (See ZOA: Don’t Appoint Israel-Basher Cong. Keith Ellison Chair of the Democratic National Committee,” Nov. 18, 2016, and links therein.)

ZOA has long believed that HIAS should return to its previous mission of helping Jews in desperate need. HIAS admitted that 45% to 80% of the refugees that it has been resettling in recent years are Muslim, and only 4% are Jewish. (Maybe that’s why they officially changed their name from Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society to HIAS).

HIAS also advocates and brought lawsuits to overturn the president’s restrictions on refugees from countries where proper vetting is impossible – namely Somalia (Omar’s homeland), Syria, Iran, Libya, Yemen, North Korea and Venezuela. There is rampant terrorism and hostility towards Jews and Israel and America in these countries. ZOA and numerous others – even the Obama administration’s own security officials – correctly warned of the dangers of bringing into our country such unvettable immigrants.” (See, e.g., ZOA Files Amicus Brief Supporting Pres. Trump’s Sept. 2017 Immigration Proclamation: U.S. Embassy Closures and Lack of On-the-Ground Presence in Affected Countries, Due to Terror and Violence, Prevent Proper Vetting from Those Nations,” Apr. 4, 2018.)

With the increase in murders and violent Islamist attacks on Jews in France, England, Sweden, Belgium, and elsewhere in Western Europe, we urge HIAS to help the vulnerable Jews who need its help; instead of holding up anti-Semitic Ilhan Omar as an inspiration. As Professor Abraham Miller wrote: 

There are Jews throughout Europe who are living lives all too reminiscent of the pogroms that gave birth to HIAS. Yet HIAS does nothing for them. Half the Jews of Malmo, Sweden—a favorite destination of Muslim immigrants—have found life there intolerable and have left. HIAS was not there to help. . . . [A]s the percentage of Muslims increases in France and throughout Europe, the pogroms launched by them—like the locking of Jews in a synagogue—will get worse. . . . It’s time for HIAS to rediscover its roots.  If it is concerned about rescuing the most victimized of people, it should begin with the Jews of Europe who are eager to escape the anti-Semitism of Islam and for whom there is no help in the West.”  (“Shameful HIAS Should Return to its Roots,” by Prof. Abraham H. Miller, The Jewish Star, Feb. 15, 2017.)  

A compilation of HIAS’ public filings reveals that HIAS received $186 million dollars of government (taxpayer) grants between 2008 and 2018. We respectfully urge HIAS to avoid using taxpayer largesse for bringing more unvettable Jew-hating, America hating, Ilhan Omars who are compassionate to ISIS terrorists into the United States. 

ZOA President Morton Klein stated:

“From what we can see, Omar is inspiring refugees and non-refugees to hate and disparage Jews and Israel and to blame and hate America. Omar is also inspiring refugees to attain powerful positions that they can use to spew hatred and enact policies that endanger Jews, Israel and America. We believe that this is the wrong sort of inspiration.”  

“ZOA urges HIAS to consider exactly how Ilhan Omar is “an inspiration to refugees around the world.” From what we can see, Omar is inspiring refugees and non-refugees to hate and disparage Jews and Israel and to blame and hate America. Omar is also inspiring refugees to attain powerful positions that they can use to spew hatred and enact policies that endanger Jews, Israel and America. We believe that this is the wrong sort of inspiration.”  

“ZOA thus urges HIAS to, at the very least, publicly retract its praise for Ilhan Omar and strongly oppose her views. All decent people who care about the safety of America and the Jewish people should condemn and isolate Ilhan Omar, and demand that she be removed from the House Foreign Relations Committee.” 

“Ilhan Omar vividly demonstrates the dangers of bringing into the United States unvetted or poorly-vetted Jew-hating, America-hating refugees, from countries such as Somalia, where U.S. officials have no on-the-ground presence, and thus cannot adequately vet immigrants.”