Daniel Markind

Dear Representatives Omar and Tlaib: Are Muslim Women People Also?

United States Congresswomen Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and others of the leftist Democratic “Squad” are some of the most vocal critics of Israel. At times their statements border on, if not clearly are, blatantly antisemitic.

Omar, who emigrated to the United States and is of Somali descent, insists on wearing a hijab, which she claims is a symbol of liberation, and is famous for saying about Jews that “it’s all about the Benjamins” (meaning money). Tlaib, who is Palestinian, just this week claimed that progressives can’t support an “apartheid” state like Israel. In 2021 she went further with her antisemitism, stating that those people who prevent a free Palestine are the same who exploit regular Americans.

Despite Omar’s and Tlaib’s antisemitism, they have never censured by the Democratic House leadership or the Democratic Party. While this week some Democratic members at least had the courage to publicly disown Tlaib’s remarks about support for Israel, their membership in the progressive Squad seems to insulate them from criticism.

But now comes the revolt of the women of Iran. Every day for the last two weeks we have witnessed scenes of Iranian women risking death to throw away the same hijab that Omar claims is a symbol of power and liberation. Despite supposedly championing Muslim human rights, the Squad members have refused to say anything about the brave women of Iran.

This has not gone unnoticed. In the last three days numerous newspapers and online publications have called out Tlaib and Omar for staying silent. The women of Iran face bullets. Tlaib and Omar won’t even face potentially negative comments from fellow progressives.

What courage.

Tlaib and Omar know that while they criticize Israel, Israel remains tethered to a basic moral code far stricter than that which exists in most of the Islamic world.  It may not be politically correct to say so, but neither Omar nor Tlaib, who seek to destroy the Jewish state, would ever be treated by Israel the way Iranians treat women who seek to destroy Omar’s headscarf.

It is at times like these that we in the West must evaluate our own moral compass. What does it say about a regime that is willing to kill its own women over their refusal to wear a hijab? What does it say about those among us who will publicly and constantly accuse Israel of all sorts of moral depravity, yet remain quiet when unarmed women – Muslim women – are treated by Iran in such a fashion?

Please Congresswomen Oman and Tlaib, tell us if you believe that Iranian Muslim women are worthy of protection and dignity as those women define it on their own terms? If so, then your silence is appalling. If not, then your morals are appalling. Either way, please forgive us for appreciating your commitment to human rights and dignity for what it truly is, and not what you claim it to be.

About the Author
Daniel B, Markind is an attorney based in Philadelphia specializing in real estate, commercial, energy and aviation law. He is the former Chair of the National Legal Committee of the Jewish National Fund of America as well as being a former member of the National Executive Board and the National Chair of the JNF National Future Leadership. He writes frequently on Middle Eastern and energy issues. Mr. Markind lives in the Philadelphia area with his wife and children.
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