"We will stand by our Muslim brothers and sisters," Sanders reportedly said in an off-the-record phone call with Ilhan Omar.
United States Senator Bernie Sanders reached out to Congresswoman Ilhan Omar Tuesday offering support amid criticism from both major political parties, Democrats and Republicans, claiming the progressive freshman lawmaker trafficked in anti-Semitic tropes on Twitter while criticizing U.S. policy on Israel.
Omar’s office confirmed that the congresswoman spoke with Democratic self-proclaimed socialist Senator Sanders, who is Jewish, off-record and as such could not discuss the contents of the conversation, The Daily Beast reported, though a source stated that he expressed his support.
“I talked to Ilhan last night to give her my personal support. We will stand by our Muslim brothers and sisters.” Sanders said on the call, according to the Daily Beast.
Last week, Omar suggested that members of U.S. Congress support Israel because of money they receive from the pro-Israel lobbying groups, such as The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), sparking a Twitter storm. She tweeted that support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins” i.e., Benjamin Franklin whose image appears on US$100 bill. Pro-Israel voices in the United States political and media spheres quickly criticized her while many progressive voices defended her.
During his presidential campaign in 2016, Bernie Sanders declined to attend the infamous AIPAC conference, as he has been critical of such lobbying groups and refusing to receive money from Super PACs. He has also been critical of Israeli policies in Palestine, including the illegal Jewish-only settlements, and has called for a solution that could grant Palestinians their right of establishing a sovereign nation on pre-1967 border.
The smear campaign against Omar exposed an Israeli-driven narrative that rejects any difference between anti-Semitism and legitimate criticism of Israel which resulted in mounting pressure against Omar that not only was she made to apologize, but also U.S. President Donald Trump called on her to resign from the Congress. Many found that ironic given the fact that many have been calling on Trump to resign for years over more serious racist and xenophobic comments.
Omar herself responded in a tweet to the president saying, "You have trafficked in hate your whole life -- against Jews, Muslims, Indigenous, immigrants, black people, and more. I learned from people impacted by my words. When will you?”