Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota apologized on Monday, one day after she published tweets accusing the pro-Israel group AIPAC of paying politicians to support Israel, which many fellow Democrats characterized as anti-Semitic because of its association with the trope of Jews using money to nefariously control the government.
“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,” she wrote. “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, I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry,” she continued. “It’s gone on too long and we must be willing to address it.”
Omar on Sunday responded on Twitter to a question about why politicians support Israel by quoting the lyric “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” referring to $100 bills. When asked by Forward opinion editor Batya Ungar-Sargon who she was referring to, Omar responded, “AIPAC!”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders had issued a statement earlier on Monday calling on Omar to “immediately apologize” for her comments. Jewish members of Congress had been circulating an open letter calling on Pelosi to act.
Pelosi added in a tweet accompanying her statement that she had spoken with Omar and the two “agreed that we must use this moment to move forward as we reject anti-Semitism in all forms.”
This is not the first time Omar has apologized after being accused of anti-Semitism. After being called out by New York Times columnist Bari Weiss last month, Omar apologized for her 2012 tweet claiming that Israel had “hypnotized the world.” She later said on “The Daily Show” that she reacted defensively when people first accused her of anti-Semitism over that tweet, but that she “had to take a deep breath and understand where people were coming from and what point they were trying to make, which is what I expect people to do when I’m talking to them about things that impact me or offend me.”
Omar is one of two members of Congress to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel; some Jews consider the movement inherently anti-Semitic due to its disproportionate focus on the Jewish state, while others defend it as a non-violent approach to targeting Israeli policies.