House Foreign Affairs Chair Eliot Engel: Ilhan Omar’s Antisemitic Comments ‘Unacceptable’

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Zach Gibson/Getty, Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, condemned Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for tweeting anti-Semitic tropes Sunday evening, calling the freshman lawmaker’s comments about the role of so-called “Jewish money” in U.S. politics “shocking.”

“Anti-Semitism in any form is unacceptable, and it’s shocking to hear a Member of Congress invoke the anti-Semitic trope of ‘Jewish money,’” Engel wrote in a statement Monday. “I fully expect that when we disagree on the Foreign Affairs Committee, we can debate policy on the merits and never question members’ motives or resort to personal attacks. Criticism of American policy toward any country is fair game, but this must be done on policy grounds.”

Omar is under fire after quote-tweeting criticism from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in which she suggested lawmakers are given donations in exchange for supporting Israel.

“It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” the Minnesota Democrat wrote in response to The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald’s criticism of McCarthy vowing to take action against anti-Israel members of Congress.

Omar followed up her tweet with an age-old antisemitic trope that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) pays lawmakers to support Israel. AIPAC does not make financial contributions or endorsements to candidates.

Last month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) selected Omar to serve on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, overlooking her support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and previous tweets in which she accused the Jewish state of “hypnotizing the world” and “evil doings.” Pelosi has yet to weigh in on the controversy.

Omar’s remarks drew strong rebuke from another powerful Democrat, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), who criticized her remarks as “deeply disappointing and disturbing.”

“It is deeply disappointing and disturbing to hear Representative Ilhan Omar’s (MN) choice of words in her exchange with a journalist yesterday, wherein she appears to traffic in old anti-Semitic tropes about Jews and money,” he said. “Her words are deeply hurtful and offensive, particular as they build on previous comments she made about Jews ‘hypnotizing’ the world in support of Israel — another old trope born of hate-filled texts like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

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