Listening and learning, but standing strong 💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/7TSroSf8h1
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 11, 2019
The latest issue started on Sunday night when Omar, who represents Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District which covers Minneapolis, plus parts of Edina, Richfield, St. Louis Park, Robbinsdale, Golden Valley, and Fridley, responded to a tweet from reporter Glenn Greenwald:
It’s all about the Benjamins baby 🎶 https://t.co/KatcXJnZLV
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 10, 2019
Throughout Monday, the tweet has been met with condemnation from the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and many other Democratic House members — including Minnesota’s Dean Phillips.
“Claims that American Jews manipulate our government with money invoke age-old anti-Semitism,” The JCRC’s statement read. “When combined with her previous tweet that Israel ‘hypnotizes the world’ to carry out ‘evil,’ such rhetoric puts our community in danger, should have no place in our politics, and undermines efforts to achieve Middle East peace.
“It is also insulting to Rep. Omar’s colleagues for the Congresswoman to falsely suggest that elected officials only support Israel because they are paid to do so. For decades, members from both parties have stood with America’s closest ally in the Middle East because the American people support a strong and secure Israel.”
Phillips, who represents the 3rd District which neighbors the 5th District, said in a statement he spoke privately with Omar before issuing the statement.
“I strongly condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms, including comments made by my colleague that – purposefully or not – have propagated dangerous and destructive stereotypes of the Jewish people and the State of Israel,” he said. “As elected leaders, it is our collective responsibility to set standards of respect and elevate understanding between the communities we represent. We agreed to move forward with a shared goal of working collaboratively to combat hatred and intolerance towards all persecuted communities, and commit to respectful debate of the issues important to each of us.”
Minnesota Senator and 2020 presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar also spoke out: “Anti-Semitic language should have no place in Congress or our country. Apologizing was the right thing to do.”
The House Democratic leadership team of Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján, Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries and Caucus Vice Chair Katherine Clark issued a joint statement:
“Anti-Semitism must be called out, confronted and condemned whenever it is encountered, without exception.
“We are and will always be strong supporters of Israel in Congress because we understand that our support is based on shared values and strategic interests. Legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share. 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.
“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.”
Locally, Jewish Community Action thanked Omar for the apology.
“It’s not anti-Semitic to point out that money influences our politics – that’s just a fact. It’s also true the myth of “Jewish Money” has been used for centuries as a weapon against Jewish communities,” the JCA statement said. “It’s incumbent that we, as progressives, are aware of this history, and are very careful when we talk about these phenomena in conjunction with one another. We’re organizers, and we recognize that many things deserve a longer conversation than the 280 characters Twitter affords.”
The Jewish Democratic Council of America tweeted that it appreciated the apology, but thought it was a paragraph too long.
.@IlhanMN’s apology is welcomed recognition that her words were offensive. We hope this will be the last time she repeats dangerous stereotypes targeting Jews.
However, she should have ended the statement at “unequivocally apologize.” To do otherwise made it equivocal. pic.twitter.com/JxqqkBAcYG
— ✡ Jewish Dems 🌊 (@USJewishDems) February 11, 2019
Omar’s fellow Twin Cities area representatives Angie Craig and Betty McCollum have not put out statements yet, nor has Minnesota DFL chairman Ken Martin.
(Editor’s note: This article will be updated as necessary)