After disclosure reports came to light revealing that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) traveled to the World Cup for four days on Qatar’s dime, the progressive congresswoman, who frequently criticizes the influence of the Israel lobby in U.S. politics, is being accused of “selective outrage.”
“We see a huge amount of Qatari influence in the halls of Congress on a regular basis,” Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Matthew Kassel, of Jewish Insider. “I don’t think that Ilhan Omar is unique in that sense.”
Schanzer said Omar is inconsistent for saying that support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins” while traveling on the tab of Qatar, which has banned homosexuality and has mistreated migrant workers.
“She does not seem to be bothered by that,” he told the publication, adding of Qatar, “If there is a lobby right now that is truly ‘all about the Benjamins,’ it is the lobby that is spending tens of millions of dollars per year in order to acquire influence in the capital of the United States.”
Omar’s spokesman Jeremy Slevin told Jewish Insider that the congresswoman’s attendance reflected her pide, as a lifelong soccer fan, in supporting the U.S. team. “She remains committed to upholding human rights and the rule of law around the world, including FIFA’s mistreatment of migrant workers, and she shared these concerns during her trip,” Slevin said.
Jewish Insider noted that two months prior to the visit, Omar and other House Democrats signed a letter of “dismay” about the International Association Football Federation’s “inaction and heel-dragging on human rights abuses in Qatar.”
“But the Minneapolis lawmaker has been comparatively muted when it comes to raising concerns about Qatar itself, which has been criticized for boosting the Muslim Brotherhood and funding Hamas,” Kassel wrote. “On the other hand, she has frequently condemned human rights abuses not only in Israel but in other Gulf nations including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which were among a group of Arab countries that imposed a three-year blockade of Qatar beginning in 2017.”