Jewish leaders criticized Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) on Sunday evening over tweets in which she alleged, falsely, that members of Congress support Israel because they are paid to do so, evoking classic anti-Jewish stereotypes.
Omar was taken to task by left-wing Jewish pundits — who normally share many of her criticisms of Israel — after she tweeted, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” in explaining why American politicians support Israel. She also accused the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-Israel lobby group, of paying them — though AIPAC does not donate to politicians.
Rather than acknowledge the explanation that Congress tends to support Israel because Americans in general broadly support Israel — with nearly two-thirds favoring Israel over the Palestinians — Omar doubled down throughout the evening against the “Israel lobby.”
In response, Jewish organizations spoke out. The American Jewish Committee (AJC) demanded that she apologize:
.@IlhanMN, Suggesting that a Jewish organization is buying off American politicians is both demonstrably false and stunningly anti-Semitic. American politicians are pro-Israel because Americans are (https://t.co/QMr1oCcnHX). Apologize. pic.twitter.com/VdJh0W8sx1
— AJC (@AJCGlobal) February 11, 2019
The Anti-Defamation League’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, who had covered for Omar last month by accepting her non-apology for an earlier antisemitic tweet, felt compelled to criticize her:
Words matter Rep. @IlhanMN. Anti-Semitism is on the rise in the US and abroad. The use of this tired anti-Semitic trope about Jews and money is inappropriate and upsetting. As Americans and Jews, we expect our politicians to condemn bigotry, not fuel it. https://t.co/SHKgVL5PWx
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) February 11, 2019
The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) surprised no one with its criticism:
— RJC (@RJC) February 11, 2019
However, even Jewish Democrats endorsed a description of Omar’s rhetoric as “shameful bigoted hatemongering”:
We agree. https://t.co/HeVPWBnQ4v
— ✡ Jewish Dems (@USJewishDems) February 11, 2019
Retired New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind took his party leaders to task:
The time has come to demand Dem leaders speak out against @ilhanmn for her vile antisemitism. This isn’t going away. Where is @nancypelosi @SenSchumer @RepJerryNadler @RepEliotEngel @RepAdamSchiff @DWStweets and DNC leadership? Have they lost their ears, eyes, or damned minds? pic.twitter.com/mRhtDMJSJC
— Dov Hikind (@HikindDov) February 11, 2019
And first-term Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) responded with a statement and a tweet criticizing Omar:
Congresswoman Omar’s statements are deeply hurtful to Jews, including myself. pic.twitter.com/u3f2JHESFA
— Max Rose (@MaxRose4NY) February 11, 2019
On Monday morning, Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) president Morton A. Klein stated: “These tweets below from Rep. Ilhan Omar, along with several comments that she has made over the years are pure, unadulterated anti-Semitism.
“The Zionist Organization of America calls on House Democrat leadership to (i) immediately remove Rep. Omar from her committee assignments; and (ii) call an immediate vote on Rep. Lee Zeldin’s H.Res 72, Rejecting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred in the United States and around the world.”
In a statement quoted by Politico, AIPAC said: “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.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) appointed Omar to the House Foreign Affairs Committee last month. She has, thus far, ignored calls to remove Omar from that committee given her views on Israel and other issues.
Earlier Sunday, Omar told CNN that it was “exciting” that her anti-Israel views were stirring debate in Washington. A spokesperson told Politico later Sunday that Omar’s controversial tweets “speak for themselves.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
This article has been updated to add Morton Klein’s statement.