Dem freshman Omar apologizes for tweets critical of pro-Israel lobbying group

Dem freshman Omar apologizes for tweets critical of pro-Israel lobbying group
Democratic Rep. Ilham Omar is one of two of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress. (Jim Mone)

(AP) - Freshman Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota has “unequivocally” apologized for tweets suggesting a powerful pro-Israel interest group paid members of Congress to support Israel.

Earlier Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats had rebuked her for the tweets.

Omar said she had no intention of offending anyone by a tweet over the weekend suggesting that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, was behind the scheme. Another tweet mentioned “the Benjamins,” a reference to $100 bills.

AIPAC denied the assertion, and Democrats said they were shocked.

Omar tweeted Monday afternoon: “I unequivocally apologize.” She thanked her colleagues for educating her on anti-Semitic Jewish tropes. She said the influence of money in politics remains a problem and must be addressed.

“Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive,” Pelosi had said in a statement issued by her office and signed by other Democratic leaders after a bipartisan backlash against the Minnesota Democrat. “We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.”

The leaders' statement came in the hours after a pair of powerful House chairman rebuked Omar for the remarks. Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel said he would not tolerate them and found it "shocking to hear a Member of Congress invoke the anti-Semitic trope of 'Jewish money.'"

He said he will emphasize to members of the panel of both parties that the American-Israeli relationship is important.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler named Omar in his statement and said she had failed a test of leadership.

AIPAC responded Sunday night: “We are proud that we are engaged in the democratic process to strengthen the US-Israel relationship. Our bipartisan efforts are reflective of American values and interests. We will not be deterred in any way by ill-informed and illegitimate attacks on this important work.”

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