Mark Mellman, President and CEO of Democratic Majority for Israel issued the following statement today regarding Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s recent statements about Israel:
“While we appreciate Congresswoman Omar’s apology for one of her past statements, her recent description of Israeli democracy is biased and inaccurate, while her equating Israel, a democracy, to Iran, a theocracy, is absurd.
“Israel is a democracy where the rights of minorities are protected. In Israel authority rests with the parliament, in which the Joint Arab List is the third largest party, and with the courts, which are presided over by judges who are both Arab and Jewish.
“Iran is a theocracy in which full and final power rests with a religious figure, the Supreme Leader. Iran has also been identified by both Democratic and Republican administrations as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.
“Congresswoman Omar also suggested a Jewish state cannot, by definition, be a democracy. Her statement ignores the fact that Israel actually has no official state religion, while according to the Pew Research Center, Christianity is the state religion of 13 countries, including democracies like England, Denmark, and Costa Rica.
“There are 27 countries in which Islam is the state religion and just one Jewish state, Israel, which is a democracy.
“Judaism is of course more than a religion. Jews are a people. No one would deny that peoples like the Somalis or Iranians or Arabs deserve states of their own, though we certainly wish those countries were democracies like Israel.
“Especially at a time when our President lies daily, Democratic Members of Congress have a special responsibility to know the facts before they speak, and to tell the American people the truth. In this instance Congresswoman Omar failed on both counts.”