Rep. Ilhan Omar apologizes for 'anti-Semitic' tweets

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Rep. Ilhan Omar on Monday apologized for what critics viewed as anti-Semitic comments made by the Minnesota freshman Democrat over the weekend.

The apology came a day after Omar posted a pair of tweets suggesting political support for Israel is driven by money from American Jews.

Omar is one of two Muslim-American women who were elected to Congress in last year’s midterms, along with Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Both have been vocal advocates for Palestinians and support the “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” (or BDS) movement to punish Israel economically.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said last week he would “take action” to discipline the two, although it’s unclear what he could do to them.

In response, Omar tweeted: “It’s all about the Benjamins baby” — slang for large sums of money.

Then, in response to another Twitter posting questioning who Omar “thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel,” the congresswoman answered “AIPAC!” — the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful lobby that organizes conferences and congressional trips. (As the New York Times notes, AIPAC does not contribute to political campaigns.)

Omar has yet to delete the tweets. A spokesman for the congresswoman did not immediately return an email seeking additional comment.

Earlier Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a joint statement from Democratic House leadership condemning Omar’s tweets and demanding that she apologize.

“Anti-Semitism must be called out, confronted and condemned whenever it is encountered, without exception,” the statement read. “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 continued. “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.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Ilhan Omar and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: AP)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Ilhan Omar and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: AP)

Pelosi said she spoke with Omar and that they “agreed that we must use this moment to move forward as we reject anti-Semitism in all forms.”

Omar’s office did not immediately return a call and email from Yahoo News seeking comment.

The call from Democratic leaders came after McCarthy issued a statement criticizing the majority party for inaction.

Back in October, McCarthy posted a tweet that suggested three Jewish billionaire Democratic donors — George Soros, Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg — were attempting to “buy” the 2018 midterm elections.

“We cannot allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to BUY this election! Get out and vote Republican November 6th. #MAGA,” McCarthy tweeted.

Four days later, he deleted it.

Meanwhile, Chelsea Clinton tweeted that she would reach out to Omar’s office on Monday to discuss “anti-Semitic tropes.”

Omar wrote back to Clinton on Twitter, saying she would be “happy to talk.”

President Trump weighed in on Omar’s comments aboard Air Force One en route to a rally in El Paso, Texas, on Monday night.

“I think she should be ashamed of herself,” Trump told reporters. “I think it was a terrible statement and I don’t think her apology was adequate.”


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