House Democratic leadership on Monday afternoon condemned recent comments made by freshman Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) that have been criticized as anti-Semitic and called on her to apologize for the tweet.
“Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive,” Democratic leaders said in a statement signed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD), Majority Whip James Clyburn (SC), Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (NM), Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (NY) and Caucus Vice Chair Katherine Clark (MA). “We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.”
Read the full statement below:
“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.”
The statement comes just as two Jewish House Democrats, Rep. Elaine Luria (VA) and Josh Gottheimer (NJ), sent leadership a letter urging the caucus to condemn anti-Semitism, after a fellow freshman Democrat came under fire for a tweet that’s been criticized as anti-Semitic.
“We are deeply alarmed by recent rhetoric from certain members within our caucus, including just last night, that has disparaged us and called into question our loyalty to our nation,” they wrote in the letter. “We urge you to join us in calling on each member of our caucus to unite against anti-Semitism and hateful tropes and stereotypes.”
While the letter does not name Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) or Omar, both have been called out by Republicans in recent weeks for signaling support for the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement against Israel for its government’s treatment of Palestinian people. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) even equated some of Omar’s comments to those of Rep. Steve King (R-IA) who was formally renounced by Congress over comments he made to the New York Times questioning when language like white supremacist became offensive.
The criticism became bipartisan on Sunday night and throughout the day Monday when Omar appeared to perpetuate an anti-Semitic trope when criticizing McCarthy on Twitter, saying his support of Israel was “all about the Benjamins baby” before later clarifying she was referencing the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee. While the group doesn’t donate directly to political candidates, it is known for pushing a pro-Israel message in Washington.
Read the letter below: