Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar got into serious trouble over the weekend for some poorly done tweets that got pegged as anti-Semitic, resulting in an apology after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stepped in.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) apologized Monday afternoon for what many saw as anti-Semitic comments perpetuating the tired stereotype that Jews control politics with money.
Omar’s mea culpa came shortly after House Democratic leaders called the first-term representative’s comments “deeply offensive” and urged her to apologize.
In a tweet, the Minnesota congresswoman said “anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on this painful history of anti-Semitic tropes.”
In a statement issued Monday, the Democratic leadership said that legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies and its treatment of Palestinians is protected by free speech, but Omar’s use of “anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that she and Omar have spoken and that they’ve agreed “to move forward as we reject anti-Semitism in all forms.”
The statement comes after two Jewish House Democrats, alarmed by what they consider anti-Semitic comments from new Muslim colleagues, urged Pelosi and her top lieutenants to denounce the divisive rhetoric and take action to stop it. On Sunday, Omar, a freshman congresswoman, suggested on Twitter that American politicians are influenced by a powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, setting off a firestorm of criticisms from both sides of the aisle.
Reps. Josh Gottheimer (N.J.) and Elaine Luria (Va.) are gathering signatures on a letter asking Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) and other senior Democrats to confront Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, also a freshman congresswoman from Michigan, by “reiterating our rejection of anti-Semitism and our continued support for the State of Israel.”
“As Jewish Members of Congress, 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,” the letter reads, according to a draft viewed by The Washington Post. “We urge you to join us in calling on each member of our Caucus to unite against anti-Semitism and hateful tropes and stereotypes.”
This is the kind of garbage we can't have heading into 2020 at all, because it absolutely will be used by Trump and his continually anti-Semitic advisors and base to attack the Democrats.
But that brings us to the point I made earlier in the week that one of the major issues Democrats will have to deal with heading into 2020 is the party's position on Israel and Palestine. There's enough odious anti-Semitism coming from Trump right now that adding to it will be a disaster for the Democrats, both morally and politically. However, the two Muslim Congresswomen, Omar and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, have been rightfully pushing for better Democratic support of the Palestinians.
The problem is, Republicans have picked a side and it's definitely Israel. The Democrats up until now have been sitting in the middle trying to appeal to both sides and have been doing that since Clinton. That may not be enough anymore, and working that out needs to be a pretty big priority.