Omar’s Anti-Semitic Tweets Set Off a Bipartisan Firestorm
Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has now called out the remarks by the newly minted Minnesota Democrat — so will she apologize?
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) — elected to the House during the November 2018 midterms — posted a series of tweets on Sunday that influencers on both sides of the aisle quickly and roundly condemned as anti-Semitic.
Even Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has now condemned the remarks after others urged her to do so.
The speaker also urged an apology.
Here’s her update on the issue:
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) February 11, 2019
Omar’s initial tweet that prompted the avalanche of condemnation from figures as disparate as Chelsea Clinton, Nikki Haley, and former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro suggested that the GOP’s support of Israel was driven by money.
“It’s all about the Benjamins, baby,” Omar wrote on Sunday, appending a musical note symbol.
“Benjamins” here appears, among other things, to be a reference to lyrics from a 1997 Puff Daddy rap song.
It's all about the Benjamins baby 🎶 https://t.co/KatcXJnZLV
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 10, 2019
Omar’s tweet was in response to a note from journalist Glenn Greenwald of the Intercept.
Greenwald’s own tweet seemed to accuse House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) of sacrificing Omar’s and her colleague Rashida Tlaib’s (D-Mich.) First Amendment rights for the sake of defending Israel.
“GOP leader Kevin McCarthy threatens punishment for @IlhanMN and @RashidaTlaib over their criticisms of Israel. It’s stunning how much time U.S. political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking [the] free speech rights of Americans,” Greenwald tweeted over the weekend.
He then attached a link to an article in Haaretz that described McCarthy’s intentions to hold Omar and Tlaib to account if their Democrat colleagues failed to do so.
Omar is one of two newly elected Muslim women serving in the House; Tlaib is the other. Both have come under fire recently for their alleged anti-Semitism.
“If they do not take action I think you’ll see action from myself,” McCarthy told reporters on Friday, as multiple outlets reported. “This cannot sustain itself. It’s unacceptable in this country,” he also said.
“When they stay silent they’re just as guilty,” McCarthy said about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders who have failed to condemn Omar and Tlaib, as Roll Call noted.
Omar doubled down on her Israel-related remarks in a one-word tweet afterward that spoke volumes: “AIPAC,” she wrote.
AIPAC stands for American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group.
Batya Ungar-Sargon of the Forward had chastised Omar for her repeated anti-Semitic tropes and asked whom Omar thought was paying off American politicians’ support of Israel.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 11, 2019
If your "criticism of AIPAC" can be replaced with a cartoon octopus with a hook nose, you need a lesson in Jewish history. And if you're out here saying "Yeah, using the word Benjamins was bad BUT" you're abetting the normalization of anti-Semitism by an elected official.
— Batya Ungar-Sargon (@bungarsargon) February 11, 2019
AIPAC’s mission is to “strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship in ways that enhance the security of the United States and Israel,” according to its website.
“We are proud that we are engaged in the democratic process to strengthen the U.S.-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,” AIPAC tweeted on Sunday.
The avalanche of condemnation for Omar’s remarks continued in the overnight hours of Sunday and into Monday.
Among the critics were Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who coincidentally spoke at an AIPAC event on Sunday.
“Our support for a secure Israel as a beacon of democracy must remain unwavering. Proud to speak at @AIPAC’s Phoenix dinner last night about strengthening and deepening this alliance,” Sinema tweeted on Monday.
Our support for a secure Israel as a beacon of democracy must remain unwavering. Proud to speak at @AIPAC’s Phoenix dinner last night about strengthening and deepening this alliance. pic.twitter.com/784ZUO5Vfb
— Kyrsten Sinema (@SenatorSinema) February 11, 2019
See also the tweets below on this issue.
Good that some Dems have condemned the disgraceful anti-Semitic remarks of Rep. Omar—but their words are empty unless Dem leaders remove her from the Foreign Affairs Committee. No one with her anti-Semitic views should be allowed to represent US foreign policy on that committee.
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) February 11, 2019
Democrat Ilhan Omar has called Israel “evil,” compared Israel to Iran, continues to push anti-Semitic tropes, and supports the anti-Semitic BDS movement to boycott Israel.
Nancy Pelosi was wrong to elevate her to the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Now Pelosi should remove her.
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) February 11, 2019
— New York Post (@nypost) February 11, 2019
1. @IlhanMN's outrageous comments equating politicians' support for Israel with being bought off by American Jewish money are a vile anti-Semitic trope. They need to be condemned by all in our party.
— Dan Shapiro (@DanielBShapiro) February 11, 2019
Co-signed as an American. We should expect all elected officials, regardless of party, and all public figures to not traffic in anti-Semitism.
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) February 11, 2019
Thank you, Chelsea – antisemitism on all sides, in all spaces, no matter how uncomfortable should always be called out and condemned. https://t.co/H1R6l6rXnY
— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) February 11, 2019
To see this at the UN was a fight every day. This CANNOT be tolerated in our own Congress by anyone of either party. In a time of increased anti semitism, we all must be held to account. No excuses. ❤️🇺🇸 #NoSpaceForHate#NoToleranceForAntiSemitism #WhatIsHappeningWithPeople https://t.co/zUaNjp3hHo
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) February 11, 2019
And check out this video:
Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and regular contributor to LifeZette. This article has been updated with the latest information.