Ilhan Omar, one of Israel’s fiercest critics in Congress, ekes out primary victory in Minnesota

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Andrew Lapin | JTA

One of Israel’s strongest critics in Congress narrowly survived a tough Democratic primary, as Rep. Ilhan Omar eked out a victory Tuesday in Minnesota’s 5th congressional district.


Ilhan Omar
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar waves during a voter engagement event in Minneapolis, Aug. 9, 2022. (Star Tribune via Getty Images)

Omar, a two-term member of Congress who supports the movement to boycott Israel and once grouped Israel and the United States with Hamas and the Taliban in a statement about human rights abuses, faced a challenge from Don Samuels, a former Minneapolis city councilman who courted pro-Israel and suburban support. He drew 48.2% of the vote in the district, which includes the city of Minneapolis and some of its suburbs, to Omar’s 50.3%.

Omar’s margin of victory — fewer than 2,500 votes — was much smaller than in 2020, when she won by 35,000 votes despite nearly $2.5 million spent to oppose her by a pro-Israel PAC. This time, relatively little was spent in the race, raising questions about whether the new political action committee operated by AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby, could have swayed the outcome as it has claimed credit for doing in other primaries around the country where it has spent as much as $6 million.

On Israel, both Omar and Samuels said they back a two-state solution. But Omar, part of the progressive “Squad,” has become the face of the Democratic Party’s divisions over Israel because of her sustained and fierce criticism of the country.

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