Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum has described the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as a "hate group" after it ran an ad suggesting she poses a "more sinister" threat to American than the Islamic State.
Rep. McCollum, whose 4th District covers the east Twin Cities metro, spoke out on Wednesday against the lobbying group, accusing it of using "hate speech" in an ad posted on Facebook.
While the ad has since been removed, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reports it linked to a petition that stated: "It’s critical that we protect our Israeli allies especially as they face threats from Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS and – maybe more sinister – right here in the U.S. Congress."
The ad used a picture of Rep. McCollum, Minnesota's 5th District Rep. Ilhan Omar, and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib.
"The decision by AIPAC to use my image in paid Facebook ads weaponizing anti-Semitism to incite followers by attacking me, my colleagues, and my work promoting human rights for Palestinian children detained in Israeli military prisons is hate speech," McCollum said in a statement on Wednesday.
"Elected representatives in Congress 'more sinister' than ISIS? Last year, I met with AIPAC representatives from Minnesota in my office. Do forces 'more sinister' than ISIS sit down and meet with AIPAC’s advocates?"
AIPAC removed the adds last week, per the JTA, and apologized for the language that suggested the members of Congress were "more sinister" than terrorist groups.
But McCollum wasn't happy with what she called a "non-apology," as AIPAC continued to suggest she's part of a "small group" inside and outside of Congress "working to ... undermine the U.S.-Israel relationship."
"AIPAC claims to be a bipartisan organization, but its use of hate speech actually makes it a hate group," she added. "By weaponizing anti-Semitism and hate to silence debate, AIPAC is taunting Democrats and mocking our core values."
She said she would continue to support efforts to assure "peace, justice, equality, and human rights for Palestinians and Israelis," and that AIPAC's ad was aiming for the opposite effect.
"AIPAC’s language is intended to demonize, not elevate a policy debate," she said. "Vile attacks such as this may be commonplace in the Trump era, but they should never be normalized."
It's not the first time AIPAC has been involved in controversy with Minnesota members of Congress.
Last year, Rep. Ilhan Omar suggested that GOP support for the Israeli regime is fueled by money from pro-Israel groups like AIPAC, suggesting that said support was "all about the Benjamins," prompting complaints of using an anti-semitic trope, for which she later apologized.