Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D – Minn.) offered an apology after the House Democratic leadership rebuked her for tweeting that Jews pay politicians to support Israel, The New York Times reported Monday.
In a tweet earlier this week about possible action that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R – Calif.) might take against her and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D – Mich.), Omar tweeted, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” a reference to $100 bills, which are illustrated with the picture of Benjamin Franklin. Both Omar and Tlaib support the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
The tweet suggested that it was Jewish money that bought support for Israel. The adoption of a classic anti-Semitic trope brought earned Omar condemnation of both Democrats and Republicans.
A day later, the Democratic House leadership — Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D – Calif.), Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D – Md.), Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D – S.C.), Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Lujan (D – N.M.), Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D – N.Y.), and Caucus Vice Chair Katherine Clark (D – Mass.) — issued a statement condemning Omar’s tweet.
Anti-Semitism must be called out, confronted, and condemned whenever it is encountered, without exception. Read my statement with House Democratic leadership on the comments of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar: https://t.co/5vdDWwR3HL pic.twitter.com/fVmqN7WiTf
— Steny Hoyer (@LeaderHoyer) February 11, 2019
“We are and will always be strong supporters of Israel in Congress because we understand that our support is based on shared values and strategic interests. Legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share,” the statement read. “But Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive. We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.”
In her apology, Omar said, “Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes.”
“My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole,” she continued, adding, “I unequivocally apologize.”
Later in her statement, Omar referred to the “problematic” role that AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby, plays in American politics.
President Donald Trump rejected Omar’s apology, calling it “lame.” He called on the Congresswoman to resign, saying, “Anti-Semitism has no place in the United States Congress. And Congressman Omar, it’s terrible what she said.”
This wasn’t the first time that Omar caused controversy over Jews and Israel.
The congresswoman tweeted in November 2012 that Israel had “hypnotized the world” to ignore its “evil doings,” using traditional anti-Semitic language about a nefarious Jewish cabal that controls and deceives the world.
More recently, she said that she “almost chuckles” when she thinks of Israeli democracy.
[Photo: CBS News / YouTube ]