Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar has been an anti-Semite for years and few questioned it. In fact, Speaker Pelosi put the freshman representative on the powerful House Foreign Relations Committee.
There was a lot of anger directed at her today after she let loose with two of her anti-Semitic tweets.
She tweeted that American lawmakers support Israel to get campaign contributions from Jewish lobby groups. She pointed to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as one of the organizations bribing lawmakers with special interest money. AIPAC doesn’t give any money to politicians.
“It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” she added to a tweet by supporter Glenn Greenwald. That’s a reference to a 1997 rap song by Puff Daddy. The message is that politicians in the U.S. are beholden to Israeli money. That is an anti-Jewish stereotype.
My congressman had to beg Pelosi to speak:
.@SpeakerPelosi, please Speak. We can’t be silent on @IlhanMN. Remove anti-Semitism from @HouseForeign, remove flagrant hostility to Jews & Israel & allow a vote on HRes72 to condemn anti-Israel & anti-Semitic hate infiltrating US politics, college campuses & halls of Congress!
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) February 11, 2019
After hours of silence and checking the feedback, Pelosi and her ally, Hoyer finally came out against the comments.
Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, joined by the other four top Democrats in the party leadership, issued a joint statement explicitly addressing Ms. Omar’s nasty messages.
“Legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share,” they wrote. “But Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive.”
“Anti-Semitism must be called out, confronted and condemned whenever it is encountered, without exception. 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.”
HALF AN APOLOGY
Omar had no choice but to issue what undoubtedly is an insincere apology.
“Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on this painful history of anti-Semitic tropes. My intention is never to offend my constituents of Jewish Americans as a whole,” she said in a statement. “This is why I unequivocally apologize.”
Omar refused to apologize for her criticism of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) “special interest influence,” adding:
“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 also re-tweeted comments by a journalist defending her, who made the case that her criticism of Israel was not to be interpreted as a slam against American Jews.
A FEW REACTIONS
Because you see, her comment was really not about Jews or Israel or even AIPAC. It was about lobbying. I wonder if she’s aware that lobbying is protected by the First Amendment. https://t.co/PxbsuFuV9w
— Brit Hume (@brithume) February 11, 2019
Just out of curiosity, I searched open records for how much AIPAC spends per year to lobby for pro-Israel interests. A measly $3.5M in a good year. It barely even cracks the top 50, is dwarfed by the *beer wholesalers.*
In contrast, Planned Parenthood’s PAC spent $20M in 2016.
— Emily Zanotti (@emzanotti) February 11, 2019
If AIPAC pays politicians to be Pro-Israel…
Who pays @IlhanMN to be pro-terrorist? 🤔
— Brigitte Gabriel (@ACTBrigitte) February 11, 2019