Dem Rep. Omar apologizes for Israel comments, calls out ‘problematic’ role of AIPAC, ‘other lobbyists’

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., apologized Monday for comments in which she implied that a prominent pro-Israel lobby compensated lawmakers for their support of the Jewish state, but insisted on what she called “the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics.”

“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,” Omar said in a statement posted to Twitter. “My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We have to always be willing 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.”

“At the same time,” she added, “I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee], the [National Rifle Association] or the fossil fuel industry. It’s gone on too long and we must be willing to address it.”

Omar drew condemnation from members of both parties after she tweeted Sunday evening that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is paying members of Congress to support Israel. On Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called on Omar to apologize, saying that “her use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive.”

Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said it was “shocking to hear a Member of Congress invoke the anti-Semitic trope of ‘Jewish money.'” Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., called the comments “deeply disappointing and disturbing.”

“Her words are deeply hurtful and offensive, particularly as they build on a previous comment she made [in 2012] about Jews ‘hypnotizing’ the world in support of Israel — another old trope born of hate-filled texts like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” Nadler said. ” … In this fragile moment in our nation’s history, we must all redouble our efforts to engage in policy debates in ways that respect the dignity and humanity of all people.”

This is a developing story; please check back for updates.

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