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Ilhan Omar called 'anti-Semitic' for tweet criticizing pro-Israel lobby

Emily Kopp, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., received an onslaught of criticism Sunday night for her tweet that ascribed Republicans' fierce opposition to boycotting Israel to the power of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington, D.C.

"It's all about the Benjamins baby," Omar tweeted Sunday in reference to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC.

AIPAC is a nonprofit organization that lobbies to strengthen Israel's relationship with the United States. AIPAC's clout inside the Beltway is demonstrated by its record of legislative successes.

The tweet came in response media reports that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had condemned Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., for their support of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement against the Israeli government.

BDS is a nonviolent movement calling on governments and corporations to exert financial pressure on Israel to recognize the rights of Palestinians, in the vein of the South African anti-apartheid movement.

McCarthy has decried Omar and Tlaib's support for BDS as anti-Semitic, attributing their opposition to the nation-state of Israel to anti-Jewish bigotry.

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Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish, has defended BDS as constitutionally protected free speech.

Omar is one of the first Muslim women in history elected to Congress.

She faced Islamaphobic bigotry in just her first few weeks in office, and she has repeatedly denounced discrimination against Jews. She has referred to efforts painting her criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism as a smear.

Critics of the tweet included many Republican members of Congress, former first daughter Chelsea Clinton and former ambassador to Israel under President Barack Obama Daniel B. Shapiro. Shapiro likened her tweet about the influence of AIPAC to an anti-Semitic trope that politicians who support the Jewish state have been "bought off by American Jewish money."

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