House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman and Pelosi condemn Rep. Omar’s anti-Semitic tweets

House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman and Pelosi condemn Rep. Omar’s anti-Semitic tweets

Published
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)

Update: 2:45 p.m. – In a tweet Omar apologized for having made the comments.

WASHINGTON –  The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Monday condemned comments by fellow Democrat and fellow committee member Rep. Ilhan Omar as anti-Semitic.

“Anti-Semitism in any form is unacceptable, and it’s shocking to hear a Member of Congress invoke the anti-Semitic trope of ‘Jewish money,’ ” Rep. Elliot Engel (N.Y.) said in a statement.

He added: “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. Criticism of American policy toward any country is fair game, but this must be done on policy grounds.”

On Sunday evening, Omar (Minn.) stirred controversy after tweeting that pro-Israel groups, such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), are paying members of Congress to support the Jewish state.

The comments drew criticism from Jewish groups, congressional Republicans, and Chelsea Clinton.

Omar is a frequent Israel critic. She has said she supports the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement, whose principal aim is to boycott the Jewish state over claims of mistreatment of Palestinians in territories Israel won during the 1967 Six Day War.

During the conflict Egypt closed access to Israeli shipping lanes near the Red Sea. Israel in turn launched a pre-emptive attack against airbases in Egypt, Syria and Jordan. Within minutes the air forces of those nations were destroyed. The conflict ended with Israel in control territories that had been under Palestinian control since 1948.

Omar has consistently rejected claims that her criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic.

Omar was born in Somalia. She and fellow Democrat Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) are the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress. Tlaib is of Palestinian descent and is also a harsh critic of Israel.

Engel, who is Jewish, is considered one of the most pro-Israel lawmakers in Congress.

Politico reported Monday that Democratic Reps. Josh Gottheimer (N.J.) and Elaine Luria (Va.) are preparing a letter to Democratic congressional leaders asking that they formally condemn both Omar’s remarks and anti-Semitism in general. Like Engel, both Gottheimer and Luria are Jewish.

TMN contacted a spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for comment.

No response was received but Pelosi and fellow Democratic congressional leaders later released a joint statement that condemned Omar’s remarks and called on her to apologize.

“Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive. We condemn these remarks and call on Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these for these hurtful comments.”

Congressional support for Israel has historically been bipartisan.

However, since the 1980s Republican support for Israel has been more pronounced in part because of strong support for the Jewish State among Evangelical Christians.

Vice President Mike Pence, who is evangelical, was a strong proponent of the administration’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Most Republicans oppose Israel returning West Bank settlements to Palestinians. Most Democrats have urged compromise on the issue while maintaining a reliably a pro-Israel stance.

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