Freshman Dem Apologizes For Tweets Widely Denounced As Anti-Semitic

Monday, February 11th 2019, 5:00 pm
By: News 9

Freshman Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota apologized Monday after receiving intense backlash from members of her own party for comments on Israel and Jews that were widely denounced as anti-Semitic.

"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," Omar said in a statement Monday. "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."

On Sunday night, Omar, one of the two first Muslim women elected to the House last November, 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 Democrat 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.

Omar's tweets drew a rebuke from Democratic House leaders, who called on her to apologize on Monday.

"Legitimate criticism of Israel's policies is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share," Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of the Democratic leadership 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."

Omar's tweets were not the first time she had 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.