Rep. Betty McCollum (D., Minn.) released a statement Wednesday calling recent ads run by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) "hate speech," denouncing the pro-Israel lobbying group as a "hate group."
"The decision by AIPAC to use my image in paid Facebook ads weaponizing anti-Semitism to incite followers by attacking me, my colleagues, and my work promoting human rights for Palestinian children detained in Israeli military prisons is hate speech," McCollum said in the statement. "This is not a call to action, it is incitement."
"This is not empty political rhetoric. It is hate speech," the congresswoman said.
The ads, which have since been removed from Facebook, compared the threat posed by "radical" Democrats to Israel to the threat posed to Israel by Iran and the terrorist groups Hamas, Hezbollah, and ISIS. In addition to McCollum's image, the ads featured images of Reps. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.).
Omar and Tlaib have both been accused of anti-Semitism during their time in Congress.
AIPAC has since apologized for the ads but maintained the organization "alluded to a genuine concern of many pro-Israel Democrats about a small but growing group, in and out of Congress, that is deliberately working to erode the bipartisan consensus on this issue and undermine the U.S.-Israel relationship."
McCollum is considered "one of the strongest critics of Israeli policy in Congress." She voted against the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, which cut all direct assistance to the terrorist group Hamas. In a speech delivered in 2018 at the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, McCollum claimed Israel was enforcing "apartheid." She accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of giving a "green light" to create apartheid inside of Israel and allowing a "massacre of scores of unarmed protesters in Gaza with complete impunity."