WASHINGTON — House Democratic leaders are calling on Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., to apologize for what many saw as anti-Semitic comments perpetuating the tired stereotype that Jews control politics with money.
In a statement issued Monday, the Democratic leadership said that legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies and its treatment of Palestinians is protected by free speech, but Omar’s use of “anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive.” As Jewish Members of Congress, we are deeply alarmed by recent rhetoric from certain members within our Caucus,” said the lawmakers’ letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. and that they’ve agreed “to move forward as we reject anti-Semitism in all forms.”
The statement comes after two Jewish House Democrats, alarmed by what they consider anti-Semitic comments from new Muslim colleagues, urged Pelosi and her top lieutenants to denounce the divisive rhetoric and take action to stop it. On Sunday, Omar, a freshman congresswoman, suggested on Twitter that American politicians are influenced by a powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, setting off a firestorm of criticisms from both sides of the aisle.
Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Elaine Luria of Virginia are gathering signatures on a letter asking Pelosi, D-Calif.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Marylandand other senior Democrats to confront Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, also a freshman congresswoman from Michigan, by “reiterating our rejection of anti-Semitism and our continued support for the State of Israel.”
“As Jewish Members of Congress, we are deeply alarmed by recent rhetoric from certain members within our Caucus, including just last night, that has disparaged us and called into question our loyalty to our nation,” the letter reads, according to a draft viewed by The Washington Post. “We urge you to join us in calling on each member of our Caucus to unite against anti-Semitism and hateful tropes and stereotypes.”
It’s all about the Benjamins baby 🎶 https://t.co/KatcXJnZLV
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 10, 2019
Although the letter does not name Omar and Tlaib, its intention couldn’t be clearer. In fact, Jewish lawmakers in recent weeks have huddled privately to discuss what they should do about their new colleagues, who openly criticize Israel and have made insensitive comments about Jews and Jewish Americans.
The last straw came Sunday night, when Omar suggested in a tweet that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., supported Israel only for campaign donations.
“It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” she wrote, an apparent reference to the 1997 Puff Daddy single featuring the Notorious B.I.G., Lil’ Kim and The Lox.
Omar was responding to a tweet from Glenn Greenwald, a journalist who argued on Twitter that the GOP’s move to equate Omar and Tlaib’s criticism of Israel to the embrace of white supremacist rhetoric by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, “is obscene.”
“In the US, we’re allowed to criticize our own government: certainly foreign governments. The GOP House Leader’s priorities are warped,” he wrote.
When people asked what Omar meant by McCarthy’s motives being “all about the Benjamins,” she tweeted, “AIPAC,” referring to the American Israel Public Affairs …read more