By Michael Hernandez
U.S. congresswoman Ilhan Omar apologized Monday for remarks criticized as “anti-Semitic” by a chorus of parties, including fellow Democrats.
“We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize,” Omar said in a statement posted to Twitter.
“At the same time, I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry,” she added.
Omar, who along with Rashida Tlaib is one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, on Sunday said some congressional support for Israel is firmly rooted in political donations from pro-Israel groups, most prominent among them the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC.
“It’s all about the Benjamins baby ????,” Omar wrote in a Twitter post that subtweeted a story about House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy threatening “action” against Omar and Tlaib for comments critical of Israel.
Omar’s post drew stern pushback on the social media website, including from McCarthy who said “Anti-Semitic tropes have no place in the halls of Congress.”
But some on Twitter were quick to point out McCarthy’s own social media history where, in a since-deleted post, he suggested liberal Jewish billionaires were trying to “buy” the 2018 midterm elections.
Within Omar’s Democratic caucus outrage had been brewing well into Monday before leadership issued a statement condemning her remarks and calling on her to apologize.
“As Democrats and as Americans, the entire Congress must be fully engaged in denouncing and rejecting all forms of hatred, racism, prejudice and discrimination wherever they are encountered,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Lujan, Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries and Caucus Vice Chair Katherine Clark said.
Pelosi said on Twitter they agreed during a meeting earlier Monday “that we must use this moment to move forward as we reject anti-Semitism in all forms.”