House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) called out Democratic leaders on Wednesday for not condemning anti-Semitism within their party.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) has been facing accusations of anti-Semitism even before she began work in Congress on January 3.
She has made numerous comments over the years in opposition to the Jewish state of Israeli.
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But critics say some of those comments have crossed the line into anti-Semitism.
Scalise expressed concern over the lack of action from Democratic party leaders, even though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a statement the other day about it — after which Omar apologized, sort of, for her latest comments.
“We have been speaking out against the growing anti-Semitism that we’ve been seeing from some of the Democrats in Congress,” Scalise said at a press conference alongside other party leaders.
“We have been disappointed that their leadership hasn’t been strong enough in calling that language out. You can even see that with Congresswoman Omar, with her recent comments.”
Omar started attracting more attention over her past statements because of a tweet on February 10. She seemed to suggest that Republican support for Israel was driven by money.
She said, “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby,” using a common slang term for money. She was responding to a note from journalist Glenn Greenwald of the Intercept in that tweet. But her use of “Benjamins” also appeared to be a reference to lyrics from a 1997 Puff Daddy rap song.
Pelosi and many others across the political spectrum indeed called on her to apologize. The speaker also said anti-Semitism must be called out. Some even called for more serious actions, such as removing her from committee assignments.
Omar did end up apologizing and said that while it wasn’t her intention to offend Jewish Americans, she would continue to fight against problematic lobbyists, a likely reference to the powerful Israel lobby, AIPAC, she had tweeted about. AIPAC stands for American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group.
“She had to apologize but as she ‘unequivocally apologized,’ she actually equivocated in that apology and went after some of the same organizations she went after before,” Scalise said. “So it’s not a true apology, and quite frankly, I don’t think she should be sitting on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.”
Omar has a history of making statements that critics have suggested are anti-Semitic.
She even once wrote, back in 2012, that Israel had hypnotized the world while hoping that Allah would help people see their evil doings.
She has defended her comments by saying she doesn’t understand how such statements — which she directed at Israel — would offend Jewish Americans.
“She’s been getting classified briefings from some of the countries like Israel that she has been speaking out against,” Scalise warned on Wednesday.
“I think that is a concern and I think Speaker Pelosi ought to remove her from that committee and she hasn’t done so yet. So we need to see stronger actions from the Democratic leadership against the growing anti-Semitism we’re seeing from their party.”
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