Ilhan Omar apologizes over tweets about US support of Israel
WASHINGTON (AP) — Representative Ilhan Omar is apologizing for her weekend tweets saying that members of Congress are being paid by a powerful interest group to support Israel.
“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 wrote in a statement posted to Twitter Monday. “We have to always step back and think through criticism, just ask I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize.”
But she said would continue to stand against “the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics.”
Omar’s statement came after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday insisted that the freshman lawmaker immediately apologize for her tweets, which she called anti-Semitic.
‘‘Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive,’’ Pelosi said in a statement issued by her office and signed by other Democratic leaders after a bipartisan backlash against the Minnesota Democrat. ‘‘We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.’’
Representative Katherine Clark of Melrose, vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus, was among those who issued the statement.
The statement came after Omar tweeted over the weekend that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is paying members of Congress to support Israel. Omar is one of two of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress.
Omar did not immediately respond.
The leaders’ statement came in the hours after a pair of powerful House chairman rebuked Omar for the remarks. Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel said he would not tolerate them and found it ‘‘shocking to hear a Member of Congress invoke the anti-Semitic trope of ‘Jewish money.'’’ He said he will emphasize to members of the panel of both parties that the American-Israeli relationship is important.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler named Omar in his statement and said she had failed a test of leadership.
AIPAC responded Sunday night: ‘‘We are proud that we are engaged in the democratic process to strengthen the US-Israel relationship. Our bipartisan efforts are reflective of American values and interests. We will not be deterred in any way by ill-informed and illegitimate attacks on this important work.’’