Sunday night Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn) united both Democrats and Republicans in outrage when she accused a lobbyist group of bribing members of Congress to support Israel.
Omar, who was elected in November, previously faced criticism for anti-Semitic comments during her first few months in office.
This past weekend, she heightened tensions, when she tweeted about a well-respected lobbyist group paying politicians to be pro-Israel.
It all began when Omar replied to a tweet from journalist Glenn Greenwald.
“GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens punishment for @IlhanMN and @RashidaTlaib over their criticisms of Israel,” Greenwald wrote. “It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans.”
Then Omar tweeted: “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.”
It's all about the Benjamins baby 🎶 https://t.co/KatcXJnZLV
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 10, 2019
Batya Ungar-Sargon, an editor at Forward, quoted Omar’s tweet, asking the congresswoman who she thought was paying American politicians to be pro-Israel.
“That’s the second anti-Semitic trope you’ve tweeted,” Ungar-Sargon added.
Would love to know who @IlhanMN thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel, though I think I can guess. Bad form, Congresswoman. That's the second anti-Semitic trope you've tweeted. https://t.co/FTCaCe7WyG
— Batya Ungar-Sargon (@bungarsargon) February 11, 2019
“AIPAC!” Rep. Omar shot back, referring to the nonprofit, American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 11, 2019
Daily Wire Senior Editor Emily Zanotti was quick to point out that AIPAC spends close to nothing on lobbying for pro-Israel interests. To put it in perspective, she noted that AIPAC spends “$3.5M in a good year,” while “Planned Parenthood’s PAC spend $20M in 2016.”
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
And that was just the beginning of the pushback Omar received from both sides of the aisle.
Democratic leaders were quick to weigh in, condemning her actions and words in a joint statement.
“Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive,” read the statement signed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Leader Steny Hoyer, Majority Whip James E. Clyburn and others.
“We condemn these remarks,” they added, “and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for those hurtful comments.”
DEM LEADERSHIP WEIGHS IN ON OMAR pic.twitter.com/ravQQCQKea
— Sam Stein (@samstein) February 11, 2019
Ben Shapiro, one of the many who condemned her original comments, noted a flaw in Omar’s claims: “Equating criticism of George Soros for giving to Leftist causes (he does) with the constant insinuation by Omar that the Jews writ large are responsible for America’s support for Israel is a rather large stretch.”
Equating criticism of George Soros for giving to Leftist causes (he does) with the constant insinuation by Omar that the Jews writ large are responsible for America's support for Israel is a rather large stretch. https://t.co/JgtYOB3iZF
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) February 11, 2019
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) applauded “some” Democrats for calling out Rep. Omar for her anti-Semitic remarks, while also noting that “their words are empty unless Dem leaders remove her from the Foreign Affairs Committee.”
“No one with her anti-Semitic views should be allowed to represent US foreign policy on that committee,” he argued.
Good that some Dems have condemned the disgraceful anti-Semitic remarks of Rep. Omar—but their words are empty unless Dem leaders remove her from the Foreign Affairs Committee. No one with her anti-Semitic views should be allowed to represent US foreign policy on that committee.
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) February 11, 2019
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) pointed out on Twitter that Omar has been avoiding a meeting with him for two weeks 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,” he noted.
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. https://t.co/0arhEAVyXO
— Rep Josh Gottheimer (@RepJoshG) February 11, 2019
Danielle Butcher, COO of ACC National, added that “the problem with
@IlhanMN ‘critiquing Israel’ is that her comments are almost never about Israel, but perpetuate and promote Jewish conspiracies. She does not attack their government, she attacks their people.”
The problem with @IlhanMN “critiquing Israel” is that her comments are almost never about Israel, but perpetuate and promote Jewish conspiracies. She does not attack their government, she attacks their people.
— Danielle Butcher (@DaniSButcher) February 11, 2019
After incredible pushback, which included being reprimanded from her own party, Omar took to Twitter to loosely apologize for her previous remarks.
The congresswoman wrote: “listening and learning, but standing strong,” with an attached apology.
Listening and learning, but standing strong 💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/7TSroSf8h1
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 11, 2019
Omar’s anti-Semitic comments are nothing new. After she was elected in November, she, for the first time, expressed her support for the violent Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement.
Later, an anti-Israel tweet Omar wrote in 2012 surfaced.
“Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel,” she wrote.
Many vocalized that Omar should be removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee because of her past and more recent anti-Semitic comments.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) was one who voiced such worries. On Monday, she took to Twitter to urge House Democrat leaders to have her removed.
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) February 11, 2019
So far, Omar has received zero lasting repercussions for her harmful comments.