After condemnation from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other fellow Democrats, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., apologized Monday for insinuating that Jews are buying off Congress to support Israel.
But the freshman Muslim lawmaker said she’s still concerned about “the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics.”
“Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,” Omar wrote in a Twitter statement.
“My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize.”
“At the same time,” she wrote, “I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee], the [National Rifle Association] or the fossil fuel industry. It’s gone on too long and we must be willing to address it.”
On Monday afternoon, Pelosi, joined by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and other party leaders, issued a statement of condemnation.
“Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive,” said Pelosi. “We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.”
Jewish writer: Akin to calling us ‘hook-nosed’
Earlier Monday the Zionist Organization of America called for Omar’s removal from committee assignments in the U.S. House of Representatives.
With a long history of anti-Semitic statements, she tweeted Sunday that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and others were paying off Congress to defend Israel.
One tweet was a response to a tweet from reporter Glenn Greenwald criticizing Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy for threatening “punishment” for Omar and fellow freshman Muslim Rep. Rashaida Tlaib, D-Mich., “over their criticisms of Israel.”
“It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” Omar wrote, followed by a musical notes emoji.
The other was a re-tweet of a Jewish writer who said that while he’s not a defender of Israel, her “Benjamins” tweet was akin to calling “us hook-nosed.”
Grabien News reported Omar subsequently deleted her retweet, apparently not having realized the post was calling her anti-Semitic.
Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs, issued a statement criticizing Omar, the Washington Times reported.
“Anti-Semitism in any form is unacceptable, and its shocking to hear a Member of Congress invoke the anti-Semitic trope of ‘Jewish money,'” he wrote.
New York Democratic Rep. Max Rose tweeted: “When someone uses hateful and offensive tropes and words against people of any faith, I will not be silent. Congresswoman Omar’s statements are deeply hurtful to Jews, including myself. Implying that Americans support Israel because of money alone is offensive enough. But to go a step further, and retweet someone declaring their pain at her sentiment is simply unacceptable.”
Chelsea Clinton commented on Twitter, “We should expect all elected officials, regardless of party, and all public figures to not traffic in anti-Semitism.”
‘The evil doings of Israel’
Breitbart News reported ZOA President Morton Klein said in a statement Monday: “These tweets below from Rep. Ilhan Omar, along with several comments that she has made over the years are pure, unadulterated anti-Semitism.”
Klein said ZOA “calls on House Democrat leadership to (i) immediately remove Rep. Omar from her committee assignments; and (ii) call an immediate vote on Rep. Lee Zeldin’s H.Res 72, Rejecting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred in the United States and around the world.”
H. Res. 72 mentions Omar by name, Breitbart reported, referring to an earlier statement she made: “Whereas, on November 16, 2012, Representative Ilhan Omar, who also supports the BDS movement, tweeted, Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) November 16, 2012
Omar, reported Breitbart, has acknowledged the tweet is offensive but has refused to apologize or delete it.
Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley responded to Omar’s Sunday tweet.
“To see this at the UN was a fight every day. This CANNOT be tolerated in our own Congress by anyone of either party,” she wrote on Twitter. “In a time of increased anti semitism, we all must be held to account. No excuses.”
On CNN’s “New Day,” Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee told CNN’s John Berman that while he would not agree with Omar’s comments, he wouldn’t “take it as anti-Semitism.”
The lawmaker said he doesn’t “believe she would harbor those sorts of views as they’ve been characterized.”