Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Monday afternoon condemned Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) anti-Semitic remarks, stating, “This kind of intolerance has no place in Congress—or anywhere in American society.”
“Rep. Omar’s use of an anti-Semitic stereotype was offensive and irresponsible,” Schumer tweeted. “This kind of intolerance has no place in Congress—or anywhere in American society.”
“No one should invoke anti-Semitic tropes during policy disagreements,” he added.
Rep. Omar’s use of an anti-Semitic stereotype was offensive and irresponsible.
This kind of intolerance has no place in Congress—or anywhere in American society.
No one should invoke anti-Semitic tropes during policy disagreements.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) February 11, 2019
Schumer’s statement came soon after the House Democratic leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), condemned Omar and urged the freshman congresswoman to immediately apologize for suggesting Republicans take bribes in exchange for supporting Israel. “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,” the lawmakers said in a statement. “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.”
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) February 11, 2019
Last month, Pelosi appointed Omar to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, despite her support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and past statements accusing the Jewish state of “hypnotizing the world” and “evil doings.”
On Sunday evening, Omar received a barrage of criticism from Democrats and Republicans after quote-tweeting criticism from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), suggesting his and other Republicans’ support of Israel is “All about the Benjamins.”
Later that night, the Minnesota Democrat falsely claimed lawmakers receive political contributions directly from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), despite the fact that the organization does not donate to politicians or make endorsements.
Omar’s remarks also drew strong condemnations from other top House Democrats, including House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY).
“While of course our nation’s leaders are free to debate the relative influence of a particular organization on our country’s policy-making process, or the factors that make our system of governance imperfect, there is an expectation of leaders—particularly those with a demonstrated commitment to the cause of justice and equality—that they would be extremely careful not to tread into the waters of anti-Semitism or any other form of prejudice or hate. Rep. Omar failed that test of leadership with these comments,” Nadler said in a statement.
Akin to Nadler, Engel accused the freshman congresswoman of propagating an “anti-Semitic trope.”
“I fully expect that when we disagree on the Foreign Affairs Committee, we will debate policy on the merits and never question members’ motives or resort to personal attacks,” he said.
Omar apologized for her remarks Monday afternoon, but concluded her statement by re-upping her criticism of AIPAC, describing its role in the U.S. politics as “problematic.”
“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,” Omar said. “My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. 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.”
“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. It’s gone on too long and we must be willing to address it,” she added.