'Hateful and Offensive': Omar Slammed by Fellow Democrats for Saying Israel Support Is Bought by AIPAC


Rep. Ilhan Omar (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
February 10, 2019

Another day, another anti-Semitic controversy for freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.).

This time, she found herself being called out by one of her own Democratic colleagues, Jewish organizations and even Chelsea Clinton for tweets claiming Republican support for Israel is bought and paid for by AIPAC.

Omar linked to a tweet by left-wing journalist Glenn Greenwald, who was criticizing House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) for threatening punishment against Omar and fellow anti-Israel Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.). She wrote, "It's all about the Benjamins baby" with musical notes, a reference to $100 bills with Benjamin Franklin's face on them.

Forward opinion editor Batya Ungar-Sargon criticized Omar for tweeting an "anti-Semitic trope" and said she'd love to know who is "paying American politicians to be pro-Israel." Omar responded, "AIPAC!", the name of the pro-Israel lobbying organization.

Omar's tweets were met with sharp criticism even from members of her own party, including Rep. Max Rose (D., N.Y.). Rose, who is Jewish, tweeted out a statement calling her words "hateful and offensive."

Clinton tweeted in agreement with Ungar-Sargon that the congresswoman had again crossed a line.

"We should expect all elected officials, regardless of party, and all public figures to not traffic in anti-Semitism," Clinton wrote.

Omar wound up tweeting at Clinton that she would be happy to talk about building an "inclusive movement for justice" and added "we must call out smears from the GOP and their allies."

More of her Democratic colleagues sounded off on Monday morning, including Democratic Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.), Tom Suozzi (N.Y.), Josh Gottheimer (N.J.) and Donna Shalala (Fla.). Former Obama administration Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro called on Omar to be condemned by all Democrats in a series of tweets on Monday.

AIPAC responded to the controversy as well, tweeting, "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."

The American Jewish Committee called on her to apologize and wrote, "Suggesting that a Jewish organization is buying off American politicians is both demonstrably false and stunningly anti-Semitic."

Omar, after first wondering why Jewish Americans would be offended, recently said she used unfortunate language in a 2012 tweet where she wrote Israel had committed "evil" acts and "hypnotized the world." She recently compared Israel to Iran, the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism, and said she was amused at the idea of the Jewish state being considered a democracy.

In addition, she and Tlaib support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel, known as BDS. The BDS movement has links to Palestinian terrorist organizations. The Anti-Defamation League has condemned it, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said BDS is anti-Semitism in action.

When asked by a CNN reporter last week why she supported BDS, Omar immediately walked away.

On Sunday night, she retweeted progressives who were supportive of her remarks, such as HuffPost's Ashley Feinberg.

She also briefly retweeted a Jewish progressive criticizing her remarks who wrote, "she might as well call us hook-nosed." She undid it shortly after.

UPDATE: Monday, 9:50 A.M.: This article was updated with additional Democrats criticizing Omar for her tweets.