Pelosi, Dem leaders urge Omar to apologize for 'anti-Semitic' tweet

Source: The Hill | February 11, 2019 | Cristina Marcos

House Democratic leaders, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), on Monday accused Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) of using “anti-Semitic tropes” and called on her to apologize after she sent tweets suggesting that lawmakers defending Israel were motivated by money.

“We are and will always be strong supporters of Israel in Congress because we understand that our support is based on shared values and strategic interests,” the top leaders of the House Democratic leadership said in a rare joint statement. “Legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share.”

Along with Pelosi, the statement was co-signed by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.), Majority Whip James Clyburn (S.C.), Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.) and Caucus Vice Chair Katherine Clark (Mass.) said in the statement.

“But Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive. We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments,” they wrote.

Pelosi added in a tweet that she spoke directly to Omar on Monday.

“In our conversation today, Congresswoman Omar and I agreed that we must use this moment to move forward as we reject anti-Semitism in all forms,” Pelosi wrote.

Omar on Sunday retweeted journalist Glenn Greenwald responding to a story about House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) promising “action” regarding her and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) over their views critical of Israel.

“It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” Omar wrote, referring to money.

Omar then tweeted that AIPAC was paying American politicians to support Israel. She was referring to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, a powerful nonprofit advocacy organization that doesn’t directly donate to political candidates. AIPAC does, however, sponsor regular congressional delegations to Israel.

Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, faced widespread condemnation from fellow Democrats for her comments.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), who is Jewish, issued a lengthy statement saying that Omar’s comments were “deeply hurtful and offensive.”

“While of course our nation’s leaders are free to debate the relative influence of a particular organization on our country’s policy-making process, or the factors that make our system of governance imperfect, there is an expectation of leaders—particularly those with a demonstrated commitment to the cause of justice and equality—that they would be extremely careful not to tread into the waters of anti-Semitism or any other form of prejudice or hate. Rep. Omar failed that test of leadership with these comments,” Nadler said.

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