Rep. Omar apologizes for controversial tweets on Israel lobby after backlash from Democratic leaders

Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar apologized Monday afternoon for controversial tweets about the Israel lobby in the United States after her comments were denounced by House Democratic leaders as “anti-Semitic tropes.”

In a post on Twitter, Omar “unequivocally” apologized for the earlier tweets and said her intention was “never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole.” But the freshman lawmaker, who was one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress last fall, added that she was not backing down on the “problematic role of lobbyists in our politics.”

Earlier Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders demanded the Minnesota Democrat apologize, which she did just before 3 p.m.

“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 leaders said in a joint 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.”

In a post on Twitter, Pelosi said she and Omar had discussed the tweets.

A proponent of the BDS — Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions — movement aimed at putting economic and political pressure on Israel over its treatment of Palestinians, Omar first tweeted Sunday night that money was driving U.S. politicians to defend Israel.

She then tweeted that AIPAC — the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee — was paying politicians to support Israel.

Omar, a Somali refugee, came under fire from Democrats and Republicans who viewed the comment about a want for “Benjamins” being the reason why Israel is so solidly supported by the U.S. government as an anti-Semitic trope involving Jews and money.

Rep. Omar’s use of an anti-Semitic stereotype was offensive and irresponsible.

This kind of intolerance has no place in Congress—or anywhere in American society.

No one should invoke anti-Semitic tropes during policy disagreements.

— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) February 11, 2019

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.

— Rep Josh Gottheimer (@RepJoshG) February 11, 2019

One of the oldest Anti-Semitic conspiracies is about Jewish money as an instrument of global domination.

See the fake anti-Semitic “Protocols of Zion”.

She might as well have tweeted: “IN OUR HANDS IS THE GREATEST POWER OF OUR DAY—GOLD”


— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 11, 2019

AIPAC, a nonprofit that does not donate directly to candidates but works to promote a staunchly pro-Israel message in Washington, responded to Omar, tweeting that it is “proud that we are engaged in the democratic process to strengthen the US-Israel relationship.”

“Our bipartisan efforts are reflective of American values and interests,” the group’s tweet continued. “We will not be deterred in any way by ill-informed and illegitimate attacks on this important work.”

Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, tweeted that she would reach out to Omar’s office on Monday to discuss “anti-Semitic tropes.” Omar tweeted that she would be happy to chat with Clinton.

Hi Melissa – I will reach out to her tomorrow. I also think we have to call out anti-Semitic language and tropes on all sides, particularly in our elected officials and particularly now.

— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) February 11, 2019

Omar, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was originally responding in her earliest tweet to criticism from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy over her prior comments regarding Israel. McCarthy and other Republicans have called on Democratic leadership to “take action” regarding Omar and fellow Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan,…

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