Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D., Ill.) defended Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) from charges of anti-Semitism Thursday, arguing she should receive some leeway because of her upbringing in Somalia.
Schakowsky confirmed reports that she yelled at her colleagues during a Democratic caucus meeting to "stop tweeting," after multiple Democrats condemned Omar's remarks that her pro-Israel opponents had "allegiance to a foreign country." At the same time, some Democrats voiced their support for the congresswoman, exposing division in the party.
"This is not a conversation that we ought to have on social media and in the public..." Schakowsky explained on MSNBC. "The majority of us are -- vast majority are going to be voting for a resolution that I hope puts this to bed, that says, yes, as a Jew, anti-Semitism is a huge deal, the anti-Semitic acts are up 50 percent over last year."
"But Islamophobia is also a huge problem," she continued, "and I want to tell you that Ilhan Omar is under tremendous attack, death threats. I think maybe she needs some security. And why? Because I think, in part, the Republicans and the media have blown this up to be much more than it is."
Schakowsky revealed Omar had apologized to her, "not only ... for the words that she has used, but she apologized personally to me as a Jew."
"I want to tell you, part of being a Jew is to be welcoming to the stranger. And I want to tell you, Ilhan Omar is a refugee from Somalia. She comes from a different culture. She has things to learn," she continued.
"I am not either trivializing anti-Semitism or the things that she said or saying that it's okay that she said them," she clarified. "But what I am saying is that I think this a learning moment for her and a learning moment for the caucus on how to get along."
Schakowsky's comments mirror those from Democratic House Whip James Clyburn, who complained a day earlier that media outlets weren't reporting that Omar lived through the Somali Civil War. "I’ve talked to her, and I can tell you she is living through a lot of pain," he said.