Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, sparked backlash Sunday evening from members of both parties — including former first daughter Chelsea Clinton — after she accused a prominent lobbying group of paying members of Congress to support Israel.
Omar, who became the first Somali-American woman elected to Congress in November, responded to a Twitter post by journalist Glenn Greenwald criticizing House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., for threatening to take action against Omar and another freshman lawmaker, Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., over allegedly anti-Semitic remarks.
“There’s situations in our conference where a member does something that is wrong — I think you’ve seen from my own actions that I take action about it,” McCarthy told reporters Friday, making an apparent reference to Republican congressman Steve King of Iowa. “I think when they stay silent, they are just as guilty … I think this will not be the end of this, and if they do not take action then I think you will see action from myself. It’s unacceptable in this country, especially when you sit back and think about and listen to what this country went through in World War II.”
Greenwald accused McCarthy of targeting Omar and Tlaib for their numerous criticisms of Israel, to which Omar chimed in “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby,” quoting a 1997 rap song by Puff Daddy. She then doubled down when challenged by Batya Ungar-Sargon, the opinion editor of The Forward newspaper.
“Would love to know who @IlhanMN thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel, though I think I can guess,” Ungar-Sargon tweeted. “Bad form, Congresswoman. That’s the second anti-Semitic trope you’ve tweeted.”
In response, Omar tweeted “AIPAC!” referring to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which regularly has been accused by progressives of agitating for a conflict with Iran.
“We are proud that we are engaged in the democratic process to strengthen the US-Israel relationship,” AIPAC tweeted Sunday evening. “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.”
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.
Another freshman Democrat, Max Rose of New York, tweeted that Omar’s statements “are deeply hurtful to Jews, including myself.”
“When someone uses hateful and offensive tropes and words against people of my faith, I will not be silent,” Rose said in a statement. “… At a time when anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise, our leaders should not be invoking hurtful stereotypes and caricatures of Jewish people to dismiss those who support Israel. In the Democratic Party – and in the United States of America – we celebrate the diversity of our people, and the Gods we pray to, as a strength. The congresswoman’s statements do not live up to that cherished ideal.”