Does Rep. Ilhan Omar Deserve Bipartisan Condemnation for AIPAC Remarks?

Rep. Ilhan Omar made history recently when she became the co-first Muslim woman elected to U.S. Congress, but she’s already facing calls to resign her seat following comments that some have deemed anti-Semitic.

Omar, who has previously made no bones about her feelings on the Israeli state’s treatment of Palestinian people, tweeted that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins baby.” [For the unfamiliar, that’s a Puff Daddy lyric referencing money.] She followed up to a question of who was paying politicians by simply replying “AIPAC” (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.)

The congresswoman entered murky territory when she made these comments. Given the stereotypes about Jewish people, money and political influence, her brief comments could definitely be interpreted as having anti-Semitic connotations.

To her credit, Omar gave the kind of apology you’d want to hear from someone who was potentially insensitive but willing to learn from a mistake. In a statement, she wrote: “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. 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.”

Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped people like Rep. McCarthy from promising to take “action” against Omar. President Donald Trump said Omar should be ashamed and said he thought she should resign.

Their condemnation is the height of hypocrisy, as Vox explains. Just months ago, McCarthy himself caught trouble for tweeting that Jewish Democrats were trying to “buy” the 2018 midterms. Meanwhile, Trump, who has called Neo-Nazis “fine people,” also told a group of Jewish donors that they want to “control” politicians.

Still, hypocrisy is practically in the GOP mission statement. What’s more surprising is how hard Democrats have come down on Omar. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Dem House leaders signed a statement of condemnation, calling Omar’s words anti-Semitic and “deeply offensive.”

I’m all about Democrats calling out their own when warranted, but it’s a little alarming how they’re not granting Omar any benefit of the doubt in this case. Saying that a lobbying group like the AIPAC has a lot of influence over American legislators does not have to come from a place of hatred, particularly since its true. Heck, the AIPAC faces criticism from plenty of American Jews who don’t like the group’s rightwing stances.

Despite the Israeli/Palestinian conflict being a complicated political subject that spurs debate around the world, it’s one of the rare issues that establishment Republicans and Democrats seem to largely agree, with both parties being team Israel. That may feed into the Democratic Party’s own quickness to condemn Omar and defend the AIPAC.

Omar is already a target of the right because she’s Muslim, a woman of color and a refugee. Thanks to Omar’s questionable comment, the GOP now has an easier time justifying their attacks on someone they were already prone to dislike. There ought to be some middle ground where Democrats can admit disappointment in her phrasing while also acknowledging that she’s being singled out for it due to her identity by a party that does that sort of thing and worse all the time.

Photo Credit: Lorie Shaull

51 comments

Chad A
Chad A7 days ago

Thank you.

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Karen H
Karen H22 days ago

I heard an interview by Ilhan Omar. She was not being anti-Semitic. She was criticizing the government, as many of us do here against our own government. Get the full story. Rather than have an open debate on Israel, the GOP is screaming "anti-Semitism". There are American companies now demanding that employees sign pro-Israel documents. Why? And then we have Trump denying Jewish couples from being foster parents in the U.S. Something is very wrong with this picture.

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MilliSiteProbs M
MilliSiteProbs M27 days ago

As usual, Care 2 does not provide the whole story. Sorry if this may be long winded! I have great difficulty understanding the hatred a great number of persons and even nations have for the Jewish and Israel (I am not Jewish) and I see it all the time in comments on C2. There are world-wide petitions circulating demanding she be removed from Congress, and I for one, have signed every petition received calling for her removal. My reaction has nothing to do with prejudice towards the congresswoman, it is her hate-oriented continual comments and actions that I do not like, which should be treated as a hate crime, just as it would be for someone like me (Caucasian) to make any derogatory remarks regarding Islam or Muslims or any other minority group. No matter what C2 says in their blurb of others supposedly making similar remarks.

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MilliSiteProbs M
MilliSiteProbs M27 days ago

Continued from above
Ms Ilhan Omar (now Democratic Minnesota Rep) publicly declared as far back as 2012 that QUOTE: Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. END QUOTE. This tweet gained national prominence after she won the November 2018 election and took office as a US congresswoman in January, 2019. Reportedly, and yes I have watched several videos of her speeches, the Muslim congresswoman has been mixing her criticism of Israel with anti-Semitic insults for a considerable number of years now. Besides that, she has called for a stop to funding for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (really??). Taking into account that she has been given a seat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, such a demand is especially outrageous and dangerous. She has also voiced support for the anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement.

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MilliSiteProbs M
MilliSiteProbs M27 days ago

Continued from above:
Rep. Ilhan Omar is scheduled to raise money in March with the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), (reported the Daily Caller, a conservative American news and opinion website). Hussam Ayloush, the chief executive director for CAIR-LA, who is hosting the event, compared the State of Israel to the Islamic State (ISIS) during a speech in April. Hassan Shibly, the chief executive director for CAIR-Florida, will also be speaking at the event. Shibly has emphatically stated that Hezbollah and Hamas are not terrorist organizations (United Arab Emirates (UAE) named CAIR a terrorist organization along with al-Qaeda and ISIS in 2014, they also, along with other middle-eastern states/countries declared Hamas a terrorist organization), says a report in the Conservative Review, another U.S. conservative media company. Shibly has repeatedly echoed those sentiments and described U.S. armed forces as radical terrorists, says the Daily Caller. The National Islam Leader, Louis Farrakhan, encouraged her to sand by her comments and not to apologize! It makes me sad to think what will become of our country when the Democrats support these individuals, without question, if they should win the next election, move to Australia maybe?

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Brian F
Brian Fabout a month ago

Omar has no right to tell the truth, which is that AIPAC, the Israel lobby has bought off and bribed most of our politicians. How dare she do this.

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heather g
heather gabout a month ago

An overly sensitive subject and unfortunately, very true.

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Leanne K
Leanne Kabout a month ago

Yes this highly accomplished woman ought to know this already. Her apology is well worded, better than most. Should she resign, or be voted out. No. But I would be wary of her decisions regarding Israel if she's ever in that position. Pro Israeli and pro Palestinian one isn't necessarily better

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RK R
RK Rabout a month ago

Yes and voted out too.

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Brian F
Brian Fabout a month ago

Omar told the truth about how AIPAC has bribed and bought off America's politicians, but since is Muslim she must be condemned.

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