Newly-elected Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar has come under fire for comments criticizing the pro-Israel lobby and politicians who accept their money, according to the Independent. Some of the pushback against the congresswoman has accused her of being anti-Semitic, charges she denies.
The controversy erupted when Omar posted two tweets late Sunday night that strongly suggested that the reason organizations like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has such strong support for its positions is because they pay off politicians.
Congresswoman Omar had previously gotten into an online scrap with California Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy when he took issue with her criticizing Israeli treatment of Palestinians.
“It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” Omar tweeted in response to McCarthy.
When she was later asked by a reporter to explain who she thinks is paying American politicians to adopt a pro-Israel stance, Omar replied simply, “AIPAC.”
McCarthy and others have called for Democrats to censure Omar, claiming that the comments were anti-Semitic.
Congresswoman Omar’s statements are deeply hurtful to Jews, including myself. pic.twitter.com/u3f2JHESFA— Max Rose (@MaxRose4NY) February 11, 2019
Among the Congresswoman’s online critics was the American Jewish Committee, which works for Jewish advocacy. The committee called her words “stunningly ant-Semitic.”
Chelsea Clinton also weighed in, supporting criticism of Omar.
Co-signed as an American. We should expect all elected officials, regardless of party, and all public figures to not traffic in anti-Semitism.— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) February 11, 2019
However, instead of clapping back at the presidential daughter, Congresswoman Omar pivoted toward making the moment one for communication and potential understanding instead.
“Chelsea, I would be happy to talk,” Omar tweeted. “We must call out smears from the GOP and their allies. And I believe we can do that without criticizing people for their faith. I look forward to building an inclusive movement for justice with you.”
Clinton tweeted back that she would be reaching out to Omar’s office on Monday.
Hi Melissa - I will reach out to her tomorrow. I also think we have to call out anti-Semitic language and tropes on all sides, particularly in our elected officials and particularly now.— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) February 11, 2019
Omar and Rashida Tlaib are the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress and both have been frequently criticized for their support of the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement, which calls for U.S. companies and universities to withdraw funds from Israeli projects and businesses.
The two congresswomen have also been subjected to frequent anti-Muslim harassment online.