Democrats’ freshmen class of lawmakers are providing the party with a new source of passion — and a lot of headaches.
A series of tweets sent Sunday night from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) are another addition for the latter category.
The tweets began after a writer for the Intercept, Glenn Greenwald, posted a story about Rep. Kevin McCarthy “threatening punishment” of Rep. Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) “over their criticisms of Israel.” (As CNN’s Jake Tapper noted, McCarthy’s comments were actually directed at “what he sees as anti-Semitic rhetoric from Reps. Omar and Tlaib.”)
Rep. Omar responded to Greenwald’s post with, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby”:
The insinuation that Jewish interests were compelling Rep. McCarthy’s actions prompted some to ask Rep. Omar for clarification.
When a writer for the Forward asked, “Would love to know who Omar thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel,” Rep. Omar responded: “AIPAC!”
As a 501(c))4), the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) does not actually make contributions to politicians.
Omar later re-tweeted a Jewish writer who described himself as not generally sympathetic to Israel, but felt Rep. Omar’s attacks on Jews were akin to calling “us hook-nosed.”
Rep. Omar subsequently deleted her retweet, apparently not having realized the post was calling her anti-Semitic. However, some online captured her retweet before it was taken down:
Rep. Omar’s tweets were promptly condemned among Jewish advocacy groups. AIPAC responded: “We are proud that we are engaged in the democratic process to strengthen the US-Israel relationship. Our bipartisan efforts are reflective of American values and interests. We will not be deterred in any way by ill-informed and illegitimate attacks on this important work.”
The American Jewish Committee called her tweets “stunningly anti-Semitic.”
Her comments also drew scorn from her fellow Democrats. Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.) wrote, “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,” Rose’s statement continued. “But to go a step further, and retweet someone declaring their parent at her sentiment is simply unacceptable. At a time when anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise, our leaders should not be invoking hurtful stereotypes and caricatures of Jewish people to dismiss those who support Israel.”
“In the Democratic Party — and in the United States of America — we celebrate the diversity of our people, and the God we pray to, as a strength,” he said. “The Congresswoman’s statements do not live up to that cherished ideal.”
In response to the escalating anger over her tweets, Rep. Omar said she’s the victim of “smears.” After Chelsea Clinton said “we have to call out anti-Semitic language and tropes on all sides, particularly in our elected officials and particularly now,” Rep. Omar responded:
The freshman lawmaker then began retweeting a series of people who said her comments about Jews were not anti-Semitic.
This is not Rep. Omar’s first time being accused of trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes. Before entering Congress, she wrote that Israel “hypnotized the world,” comments she later said she didn’t understand why Jews found offensive. More recently Rep. Omar used Holocaust Remembrance Day to downplay the Holocaust.
UPDATE: Rep. Omar has issued a statement on her tweets after senior Democrats condemned her: