US congresswoman sorry for anti-Semitic trope but still criticizes AIPAC

Omar says that she stands by her charge that lobby groups such as AIPAC are too powerful.

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

U.S. Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota “unequivocally” apologized for comments that she made Sunday, which were widely viewed as anti-Semitic in conjuring images of Jews buying power with money. However, she still insisted the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC held too much power.

She charged that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington was buying off U.S. politicians to support Israel.

It followed criticism by Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s threat to take action against Omar for previous anti-Semitic and anti-Israel remarks that she had made. Omar replied that the minority leader’s warning was “all about the Benjamins baby,” a reference to the $100 bill featuring Benjamin Franklin, and a thinly-veiled accusation that McCarthy was defending Israel in exchange for money.

She later pinpointed AIPAC as the source of the supposed payoffs.

In response to criticism from within her own Democratic Party as well as from Republicans for using “anti-Semitic tropes,” Omar said on Monday that “anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes. My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole.”

The Muslim congresswoman added, “We have to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize.”

However, she did not back off from her charge that AIPAC, as well as other lobby groups, wielded too much power.

“I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA [National Rifle Association], or the fossil fuel industry,” she said. “It’s gone on too long and we must be willing to address it.”

Her statement came after the House Democratic leadership labeled Omar’s “anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters” as “deeply offensive.” They called on her to “immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.”

However, the top House Democrats stopped short of calling for her to be censured, a move that McCarthy had threatened.