Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Monday listed comments from freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) alongside President Donald Trump’s praise of attendees at the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville in 2017 during a speech condemning anti-Semitism.
“When someone says that being Jewish and supporting Israel means you’re not loyal to America, we must call it out,” Schumer said during a speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) conference in Washington, D.C., referencing comments made by Omar that caused an uproar in Congress.
Schumer then added, “When someone looks at a neo-Nazi rally and sees some ‘very fine people’ among its company, we must call it out.”
He made another apparent reference to Omar in the same list during his speech: “When someone suggests that money drives support for Israel, we must call it out.”
Schumer’s mention of “very fine people” was a reference to Trump’s description of the group of neo-Nazis and other protesters at the Charlottesville rally. “You have some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides,” Trump said at the time.
Omar never explicitly singled out Jews in the comment Schumer referenced, as the senator implied. Rather, while discussing allegations that earlier comments she’d made were anti-Semitic Omar said: “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
Separately, Omar apologized for a tweet alleging that Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) criticism of her own stance on Israel was “all about the Benjamins baby,” a comment that many said utilized an anti-Semitic trope, but which Omar later said was a reference to AIPAC’s influence.
Asked why Schumer had made the comparison, Justin Goodman, a spokesperson for the minority leader, told TPM in an email: “Please look at his full remarks on this issue… including the last line: ‘if you only care about anti-Semitism coming from your political opponents, then you are not fully committed to fighting anti-Semitism.'”
Omar, one of two of the first Muslim congresswomen to ever serve in the House of Representatives, responded to Schumer’s comments in a tweet:
This is selective hearing, informed by one’s biases and it totally explains why certain people might hear or read my words differently!
If everyone was able to acknowledge their own implicit biases, the world would be full of loving and inclusive societies. https://t.co/6OoPF6CrLL
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) March 26, 2019
The minority leader was hardly alone in citing Omar at AIPAC’s conference: So did Vice President Mike Pence, Meghan McCain and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), among others.
McCarthy himself earned accusations of peddling in anti-Semitism when he targeted three well-known political donors in a since-deleted 2018 tweet.
“[W]e cannot allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to BUY this election! Get out and vote Republican November 6th,” he wrote before the midterm elections. Schumer on Tuesday noted that comment as well, saying before his reference to Omar: “When someone names only prominent Jews as trying to ‘buy’ or ‘steal’ our elections, we must call it out.”
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