House Democratic leaders called on freshman Democraticof Minnesota to apologize Monday for comments on Israel and Jews that were widely denounced as anti-Semitic.
“Legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share,” Democratic leaders including Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “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.”
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.”
On Sunday night, Omar, one of the House’s few Muslim members as well as one of its youngest, tweeted references to Israel that many in her own party deemed unacceptable. In response to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy raising the possibility of punishing her and another Democratic House member for criticizing Israel, Omar tweeted, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.”
She also tweeted “AIPAC!” in response to a different tweet asking whom she believes is paying Americans to be pro-Israel, referring to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a major pro-Israel lobbying group.
It’s not the first time Omar has made questionable comments concerning Jews. In 2012, before she was in Congress, Omar said Israel was “hypnotizing” the world, a comment for which she has since apologized.
Later Sunday night, members of Omar’s own party began calling her out publicly for her comments.
“It is deeply disappointing and disturbing to hear Representative Ilhan Omar’s (MN) choice of words in her exchange with a journalist yesterday, wherein she appears to traffic in old anti-Semitic tropes about Jews and money,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler said in a lengthy statement.
“For nearly two weeks, Rep. @IlhanMN has avoided meeting with me to discuss why anti-Semitic tropes like these are hurtful to so many Americans. There is absolutely no place for this rhetoric in Congress — or anywhere,” New Jersey Democrat Rep. Josh Gottheimer tweeted.
“Congresswoman Omar’s statements are deeply hurtful to Jews, including myself,” New York Democratic Rep. Max Rose tweeted along with a statement.
Omar doubled down on her comments Sunday night, calling criticisms a smear from the other party.
When Chelsea Clinton appeared to criticize her comments Monday, Omar tweeted, “Chelsea – I would be happy to talk. We must call out smears from the GOP and their allies. And I believe we can do that without criticizing people for their faith. I look forward to building an inclusive movement for justice with you.”