The Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar “unequivocally” apologized on Monday for comments that suggested American support for Israel was fueled by political donations from a pro-Israel lobby group, a remark condemned by House Democratic leaders for raising “antisemitic tropes and prejudicial accusations”.
“Antisemitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,” she said in a statement posted on Twitter. “My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole.”
The response came after members of House leadership, including the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and majority leader, Steny Hoyer, called on Omar to “immediately apologize for these hurtful comments”.
Listening and learning, but standing strong 💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/7TSroSf8h1
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 11, 2019
“Legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share,” they said in a joint statement. “But Congresswoman Omar’s use of antisemitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive.”
Republicans were already threatening action against Omar and the Michigan congresswoman Rashida Tlaib – the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress – over past comments that have been denounced as antisemitic. The women, both outspoken critics of the Israeli government, have faced charges of antisemitism since arriving in Congress last month.