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Rep. Ilhan Omar apologizes for allegedly anti-Semitic tweets, says she's 'listening and learning'

Comments she made regarding the role of money in pro-Israel lobbying have led to accusations of anti-semitism.


Rep. Ilhan Omar has issued an apology for the comments she made on Twitter Sunday night, saying she is "grateful" for her Jewish colleagues and allies "who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes."

However, she didn't back down from her views on the role of lobbyists and their influence on public and foreign policy.

Also this afternoon, Jewish Community Action Minnesota issued a statement thanking Rep. Omar for her apology, but also accusing some Republicans of hypocrisy over their criticism.

"It's not anti-Semitic to point out that money influences our politics - that's just a fact. It's also true the myth of "Jewish Money" has been used for centuries as a weapon against Jewish communities. I think it's incumbent that we on the left a. be aware of this history, and b. are very careful when we talk about these phenomena in conjunction with one another. The 280 character Twitter gives you probably isn't enough speech to really do that.

That said, when people on the right accuse someone on the left of being an anti-Semite, most of the time they aren't doing so in good faith. The folks going after Rep. Omar aren't an exception. During the 2018 election Minority Leader McCarthy trafficked in anti-Semitic memes and posted about how George Soros and Michael Bloomberg were going to buy the election. Just the other day, Jennifer Carnahan, the Chair of the MN GOP, told Mayor Jacob Frey, a Jew, to go back to the East Coast - another classic Jewish stereotype."

UPDATE 12:30 P.M.

Rep.Ilhan Omar has now been condemned by Democratic leadership in the U.S. House and have called on her to apologize.

Original story

Minnesota's 5th District Rep. Ilhan Omar is once again facing pressure for comments she made on social media.

In question are tweets that she posted on Sunday night that suggested Republican support for the Israeli regime is fueled by money from pro-Israel groups, namely the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Omar has previously shown herself to be a critic of the Israeli government's treatment of Palestinian people, and is a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement to censure Israel until it follows international law in relation to Palestine.

But the wording of her latest tweets have given rise to claims of anti-Semitism, as she responded to a tweet from Glenn Greenwald saying GOP support for the Israeli government is "all about the Benjamins."

She then went on to suggest that AIPAC is funding the pro-Israeli government sentiment among Republicans. AIPAC, as a non-profit doesn't donate directly to candidates, albeit – as NBC News reports – it does lobby to promote a pro-Israel message.

Rep. Omar's comments prompted criticism from some of her fellow Democrats, who suggested she was using anti-Semitic tropes by linking Israeli influence with money.

These statements were issued by Jewish Reps. Josh Gottheimer, of New Jersey, and Max Rose, of New York.

Rep. Gottheimer and another member of Congress, Rep. Elaine Lauria, have written a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling on House Democrats to denounce the use of "harmful tropes and stereotypes" on both sides of the aisle, in response to some of the  stances taken on Israel by Reps. Omar and Rashida Tlaib, of Michigan.

There was also criticism of Omar from Chelsea Clinton, who said: "We should expect all elected officials, regardless of party, and all public figures to not traffic in anti-Semitism."

In response, Rep. Omar offered to discuss the issue with Clinton, and re-iterated a point she has made in the past that the target for her criticism is the Israeli government, not people of the Jewish faith.

She then retweeted other talking heads on Twitter who agreed there's a valid argument to be made that the likes of AIPAC have a significant influence on government policy regarding Israel.

Politico reports that GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader, has threatened to take action against Omar if Democratic leaders don't condemn anti-Semitism, though it's been pointed out that McCarthy himself has been accused of sharing anti-Semitic tropes that target Jewish Democratic backers like George Soros and Michael Bloomberg.

At the local level, Carin Mrotz, of Jewish Community Action Minnesota, took a more nuanced view of the debate.

Rep. Omar's comments on Twitter has put her under the microscope on more than one occasion during her short time as a member of Congress.

She was criticized last month for tweeting that Sen. Lindsey Graham was "compromised," and also deleted a tweet that contained a partial inaccuracy regarding the actions of students at a Catholic school in Kentucky during a march in Washington D.C.

But she wasn't the only Minnesotan in politics who was facing criticism for alleged anti-Semitism on Sunday.

Minnesota GOP chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan was criticized by Mrotz, who is the executive director of Jewish Community Action in Minnesota, for a tweet in which she said Minneapolis' Jewish mayor, Jacob Frey, should "go back to the East Coast."

This tweet was later deleted, but not before a screenshot was taken.

Later on Sunday, Carnahan issued a statement criticizing Omar's alleged anti-Semitic tweets, saying: "There’s no place for this in Congress or among our Minnesota congressional delegation."

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