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  • The U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar was accused of anti-Semitism for criticizing Israel's influence on the country's politics.

    The U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar was accused of anti-Semitism for criticizing Israel's influence on the country's politics. | Photo: Reuters

Published 11 February 2019

A pro-Israel lobby accused congresswoman Representative Ilhan Omar of anti-Semitism when she criticized Israeli lobbies' influence on U.S. politics.

Democratic Rep. from Minnesota, United States, Ilhan Omar was accused of anti-Semitism Sunday for criticizing Israel’s influence in the U.S. Congress.

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She said that the members of Congress support Israel because of money they receive from the pro-Israel lobby which sparked a Twitter battle. She tweeted that support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins” i.e., Benjamin Franklin whose image appears on US$100 bill.

The Twitter storm started when Omar retweeted a famous journalist, Glen Greenwald, who said “GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens punishment for @IlhanMN and @RashidaTlaib over their criticisms of Israel. It's stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans.”

In response to Ilhan, Forward journalist Batya Ungar-Sargon wrote, “Would love to know who @IlhanMN thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel, though I think I can guess. Bad form, Congresswoman. That's the second anti-Semitic trope you've tweeted.”

When Omar said American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is paying the U.S. politicians, the organization came out with a response,  “We are proud that we are engaged in the democratic process to strengthen the U.S.-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.”

AIPAC is the most influential pro-Israel lobby group in the U.S. and holds a mammoth influence in the politics and policies of the country. In 2018, AIPAC spent more than $3.5 million in lobbying for pro-Israel measures.

However, netizens came out in support of Ilhan Omar and denounced the hate comments against Ilhan Omar.

When former first daughter Chelsea Clinton came out in support of Batya Ungar-Sargon, many denounced her for being racist as she wrote, “Co-signed as an American. We should expect all elected officials, regardless of party, and all public figures to not traffic in anti-Semitism.”

Ilhan Omar, an active supporter of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement had been vocal about accusations against her. She has always maintained that she condemns the Israeli government for its inhuman treatment against Palestinians and that does not equate to condemning Jewish people.

Omar’s comment came in the context of her and Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s challenge to the U.S. support for Israeli policies which have resulted in deadly consequences for the occupied Palestinians.

On Friday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy demanded that the leaders of Democratic party admonish Omar and Tlaib for their support of BDS movement.

“From scapegoating Jews to win an election to scapegoating Jews to attack his Muslim colleagues, [McCarthy] sure loves to invoke the Jewish community to further his right-wing objectives,” Women’s March organizer Sophie Ellman-Golan wrote criticizing McCarthy.

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