Jewish Democratic lawmakers criticize Ilhan Omar for saying AIPAC buys pro-Israel support


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Jewish House Democrats repudiated party colleague Ilhan Omar of Minnesota after she said AIPAC buys the pro-Israel support of lawmakers.

A letter being circulated Monday in the U.S. House of Representatives among Jewish Democrats urged the party leadership there to have the caucus call on every Democrat to speak out against anti-Semitism.

The letter addressed to Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland and three other leaders was initiated by Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Elaine Luria of Virginia.

“We must speak out when any Member — Democrat or Republican — uses harmful tropes or stereotypes, levels accusations of dual loyalty, or makes reckless statements like those of yesterday,” the letter says.

A day earlier Omar tweeted “It’s all about the Benjamins,” or cash, when referring to a call by House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California to take action against Omar for a 7-year-old tweet that was perceived as anti-Semitic, and for which she has apologized. Asked to clarify whom she was referring to, she replied “AIPAC!” The American Israel Public Affairs Committee does not give money to lawmakers.

A number of Jewish Democrats already had posted statements condemning Omar, including Reps. Eliot Engel of New York, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Jerry Nadler, also of New York, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee; and Ted Deutch of Florida, the chairman of its Middle East subcommittee. Others included Lois Frankel of Florida, Max Rose of New York and Brad Schneider of Illinois.

Omar is a member of Engel’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

“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,” Engel said in his statement.

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