WASHINGTON – Rep. Ilhan Omar, D – Minn., apologized Monday after claiming Republicans are being bribed to support Israel.
“Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for the Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,” Omar said in a statement. “My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole.
“We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize.”
Listening and learning, but standing strong 💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/7TSroSf8h1
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 11, 2019
The Minnesota Muslim Democrat concluded her apology slamming The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a prominent bipartisan organization committed to strengthening, protecting and promoting US – Israeli relations.
“At the same time, I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry. It’s gone on too long and we must be willing to address it,” she continued.
Omar’s apology comes after the freshman congresswoman came under fire for claiming Sunday that Republican support of Israel is fueled by donations from the AIPAC.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald argued the GOP is attempting to infringe upon the free speech rights of Omar and Muslim Rep. Rashida Tlaib — the first two Muslim women elected to Congress — by condemning their criticism of Israel.
“GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens punishment for @IlhanMN and @RashidaTlaib over their criticisms of Israel. It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans.”
Omar replied, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” followed by a musical notes emoji.
A woman named Batya Ungar-Sargon, an opinion editor of the Forward questioned who’s paying Republicans to support Israel, and Omar shot back, “AIPAC!”
Omar’s accusations ignited bipartisan backlash, prompting her Democratic colleagues to demand she apologize for her “deeply offensive remarks.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office issued a statement signed by a slew of Democratic leaders repudiating Omar’s accusations.
“Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporter’s is deeply offensive,” the statement read. “We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) February 11, 2019
Omar failed a test of leadership, warned House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).
“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,” said Nadler. “Her words are deeply hurtful and offensive, particular as they build on previous comments she made about Jews ‘hypnotizing’ the world in support of Israel — another old trope born of hate-filled texts like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”
Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) argued Omar’s insinuations are intolerable and said he found it “shocking to hear a Member of Congress invoke the anti-Semitic trope of ‘Jewish money.’”
We are 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. We will not be deterred in any way by ill-informed and illegitimate attacks on this important work.
— AIPAC (@AIPAC) February 11, 2019