House Democratic leadership issued a joint statement Monday calling for freshman Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota to apologize for comments they said included “anti-Semitic tropes.” CNN reports.
The statement from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and other members of House Democratic leadership said anti-Semitism had to be called out “without exception.”
“Legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share,” the statement read. “But Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive. We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.”
The Monday afternoon statement came as Omar faced increasing backlash after suggesting Republican support of Israel is fueled by donations from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a prominent pro-Israel group.
Omar responded to a tweet by journalist Glenn Greenwald that reads, “GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens punishment for @IlhanMN and @RashidaTlaib over their criticisms of Israel. It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans.”
Omar replied, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” followed by a musical notes emoji. Omar has been critical of the Israeli government over its treatment of Palestinians and supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a non-violent activist campaign that aims to put economic and political pressure on Israel over its actions toward Palestinians, including calling for an end to Israeli occupation of the West Bank.
In response to Omar’s tweet Sunday, a woman named Batya Ungar-Sargon, an opinion editor of the Forward, tweeted, “Would love to know who @IlhanMN thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel, though I think I can guess. Bad form, Congresswoman. That’s the second anti-Semitic trope you’ve tweeted.”
Omar responded to the tweet and wrote, “AIPAC!” AIPAC is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
The freshman congresswoman faced swift backlash from both Democrats and Republicans on Twitter.
Last week, Omar defended her views on Israel and told CNN it is “not surprising” she is generating attention and said, “I think it is actually exciting because we are finally able to have conversations that we weren’t really willing to.”
“It is really important for us to get a different lens about what peace in that region could look like and the kind of difficult conversations we need to have about allies,” Omar told CNN on Tuesday.