Jewish advocacy group seeks apology from Rep. Omar following 'anti-Semitic' tweets

Geraldine Edwards
February 12, 2019

U.S. congresswoman Ilhan Omar tweeted out an apology on Monday, after posts she had written a day earlier were condemned as anti-Semitic.

Several Democrats and Republicans spoke out to say Omar's prejudicial accusations were wrong about why lawmakers support Israel, arguing that the support is based on shared values and strategic interests.

"I certainly support a strong and safe Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East and I'm going to continue to do that", she said. She thanked her colleagues for educating her on anti-Semitic Jewish tropes. As I argued past year in "A question for Democrats", Omar's hatred of Israel is necessarily anti-Semitic.

Omar initially responded "It's all about the Benjamins baby" to a tweet about House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) seeking action against her and Rep. Rashida Tlaib's (D-Mich.) anti-Israel statements. At the same time, she said, "I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry".

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"Rep. Omar's tweet yesterday went too far".

Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Elaine Luria (D-Va.) wrote a letter Monday to the top five Democrats in the congressional leadership saying they were "deeply alarmed by recent rhetoric from certain members within our Caucus, including just last night, that has disparaged us and called into question our loyalty to our nation".

Journalist Batya Ungar-Sargon swiftly reacted, wondering who Omar thinks "is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel", and accused her of making an "anti-Semitic trope".

Several prominent Democratic figures - including Jewish members of the House caucus - have condemned her, and called for a nonpartisan response to the use of classic antisemitic tropes.

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Shapiro said that some held off on criticizing Omar because they wanted to work with her.

New Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar arrives before President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address. She said the statement came in the context of Israel's treatment of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip. "Congresswoman Omar's comments are deeply hurtful to Jews, including myself", he wrote.

Pelosi tweeted she had spoken to Omar on Monday, and said the two "agreed that we must use this moment to move forward as we reject anti-Semitism in all forms". She suggested her comments were being weaponized by the GOP: "We must call out smears from the GOP and their allies".

House Judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler, also of NY, said Ms Omar's choice of words was "deeply disappointing and disturbing".

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And while her remarks about AIPAC don't necessarily show she's anti-Semitic - some of AIPAC's best friends have good reason to exaggerate its importance as well - she is playing into stereotypes that aid Republican efforts to suggest that any criticism of Bibi Netanyahu's policies exist on a slippery slope that leads to passing around copies of Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

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