Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., a Somalian-born Muslim, is plainly hostile to Israel. But her Twitter messages of Sunday evening, February 10, calling into question the legitimacy of Israel, a reliable U.S. ally, were way out of bounds. To their credit, Democratic Party leaders issued a written rebuke. They now should take action.
The controversy revolves around a pair of retweets sent by Congresswoman Omar, who represents the Left-leaning 5thCongressional District of Minnesota, which encompasses Minneapolis and several suburbs. In the first instance, she favorably commented on an absurd allegation by radical blogger Glenn Greenwald that GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was attacking the freedom of speech of anti-Israeli (and fellow Muslim) Rep. Rashida Tlaib, R-Mich. Rep. Omar remarked about Israel’s supporters, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.” (Note: A Benjamin is slang for a $100 bill). In the second instance, she contemptuously responded to a tweet by Batya Ungar-Sargon, opinion editor of the Jewish newspaper, The Forward, who had expressed dismay over Rep. Tlaib’s hostility toward Israel. “AIPAC!,” retorted Omar. That would be the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
The following afternoon, House Democratic leaders, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, called for an apology from Rep. Omar. “…Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive,” their statement read. “We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.” An hour and a half later, she offered an apology. “Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes…I unequivocally apologize,” she said.