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Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar once again faces anti-Semitism allegations

Torey Van Oot, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in News & Features

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar sparked another round of backlash and scrutiny related to her views on Israel after using language condemned as a "hateful trope" in a tweet.

The Democratic congresswoman shared a tweet late Sunday on House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy pledging to take "action" in response to her support for movements to boycott and sanction Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. "It's all about the Benjamin's baby," she wrote.

The use of the line, which comes from a 1997 Puff Daddy song, drew immediate criticism online for conjuring long-held stereotypes about Jewish people and money.

In a follow-up tweet, the freshman congresswoman said she was referencing the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful pro-Israel lobbying organization.

But the tweet was swiftly condemned by high-profile figures on both sides of the aisle, including a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and Chelsea Clinton, whose husband is Jewish.

"We should expect all elected officials, regardless of party, and all public figures to not traffic in anti-Semitism," Clinton tweeted.

Fellow freshman Democratic Rep. Max Rose of New York called the comments "deeply hurtful to Jews, including myself," according to Politico. Two other Democratic representatives wrote a letter to congressional leaders saying they are "deeply alarmed by the language," according to 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," they wrote.

GOP groups, including the National Republican Campaign Committee, blasted Omar over the remarks. Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan called on Minnesota Democrats, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar, to denounce the remarks and said House leadership should strip the freshman congresswoman of her committee assignment.


"It's clear that congresswoman Ilhan Omar harbors deep-seated anti-Semitic views," Carnahan said in a statement. "There's no place for this in Congress or among our Minnesota congressional delegation."

The latest tweet wasn't the first time Omar has come under fire for her comments and stances on Israel or her Twitter use more generally. A 2012 tweet saying "Israel has hypnotized the world" was also widely rebuked for using anti-Semitic stereotypes. Omar has since said that tweet, sent in response to reports of military action against Hamas, used "unfortunate words." Last month, she also faced criticism for suggesting, without evidence, that U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., remained a staunch ally to the president because he was somehow "compromised."

A spokesman for Omar did not immediately respond to the Star Tribune's request for comment on the latest backlash. Her office told Politico late Sunday that the tweets "speak for themselves."

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