(FOX 9) - Update (1:46 p.m.) - U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted "listening and learning, but standing strong" followed by a statement in which she apologized and said she did not intend to offend Jewish Americans with her previous tweets.
Listening and learning, but standing strong 💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/7TSroSf8h1— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 11, 2019
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota is facing backlash from congressional colleagues for a tweet being described as anti-Semitic.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi leads a group of top Democrats calling on Omar to apologize. The statement reads:
“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.”
Sunday night Omar tweeted:
AIPAC! https://t.co/UdzaFUEfrh— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 11, 2019
The American Jewish Committee immediately responded, telling Rep. Omar "suggesting that a Jewish organization is buying off American politicians is both demonstrably false and stunningly anti-Semitic.
.@IlhanMN, Suggesting that a Jewish organization is buying off American politicians is both demonstrably false and stunningly anti-Semitic. American politicians are pro-Israel because Americans are (https://t.co/QMr1oCcnHX). Apologize. pic.twitter.com/VdJh0W8sx1— AJC (@AJCGlobal) February 11, 2019
Monday, congressional members, including some Democrats, are critizing her comments. Rep. Eliot Engel, a Democrat representing New York's 16th Congressional district and chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on which Omar sits, released at statement that read:
“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.’ 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.
“As I have said, as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I will ensure support for Israel remains strong and bipartisan and I will shine a light on the evil of anti-Semitism and the danger it poses. I will make the case to Members on both side of the aisle that our alliance and friendship with Israel are important to our countries’ shared interests, security, and values. This has always been the basis of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and it’s the reason why members on both sides have been strong supporters of that relationship.”
Rep. Jerry Nadler, House Judiciary chairman and a Democrat representing New York's 10th Congressional district, released a separate statement:
"It is deeply disappointing and disturbing to hear Representative Ilhan Omar’s (MN) choice of words in her exchange with a journalist yesterday, wherein she appears to traffic in old anti-Semitic tropes about Jews and money. Her words are deeply hurtful and offensive, particularly as they build on a previous comment she made about Jews “hypnotizing” the world in support of Israel – another old trope born of hate-filled texts like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
“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.
“And even as this is the case, one must also note and be concerned about the concerted Right-wing tactics aimed at advancing their agenda by distracting and dividing those committed to equality and social justice. These tactics have painted some unfairly and we must guard against this as well, because to unfairly accuse someone of a particular hatred undermines the legitimacy of the condemnations when they are truly warranted.
“In this fragile moment in our nation’s history, we must all redouble our efforts to engage in policy debates in ways that respect the dignity and humanity of all people.
“Finally, the strong bi-partisan support of Israel in this country is a hallmark of our nation’s commitment to the ideals of democracy and self-determination. The overwhelming majority of Members of Congress believe in a solution that provides for two states for two peoples—directly negotiated by the parties—because is it the only way to a meaningful, lasting and secure peace between Israel and the Palestinians that recognizes the needs, interests, and concerns of both peoples. Recent efforts, from both the Left and Right, to push away from such a solution only bring us further from the peace that both sides so desperately need. It is my hope to see such a solution in my lifetime, and I will continue to endeavor, working with my colleagues from all backgrounds and political ideologies, to make that peace a reality.”
Fox 9 has reached out to Omar's office for comment.