February 15, 2019
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., has failed to quell concerns among Jewish leaders and groups both nationally and in her district that she has learned from her recent controversial comments many viewed as anti-Semitic.
Jewish leaders told the Washington Examiner that they view her apology as insufficient and fear that she is unrepentant.
“I believe that the pattern we have seen is an indication of her attitude on the subject rather than ignorance,” said Minnesota State Sen. Ron Latz, a Democrat, who is Jewish.
Omar generated outrage last week with tweets suggesting that members of Congress supported Israel because of financial contributions from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. After receiving bipartisan condemnation for the tweets, Omar apologized for what she then said were old anti-Semitic tropes.
Yet, Jewish leaders note that she has run into trouble for similar tweets before, only to refuse to delete the tweets or avoid similar provocative statements.
Omar, whose district includes the city of St. Louis Park (the largest Jewish community in the state), tweeted in 2012, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”
Latz, who represents a state senate district within Omar’s congressional district, held a meeting with Omar a year ago in which he and several other Jewish leaders attempted to explain that the 2012 tweet was anti-Semitic. Latz said he and the other Jewish leaders left the meeting not sure “she grasped the significance of it to us.” In particular, Latz said that she declined to delete the tweet and said that she stood by the sentiment.
As of Thursday, Omar had not deleted the 2012 tweet nor her most recent ones. Her office has not responded to the Washington Examiner’s inquiry regarding the tweets.
Leaders at national Jewish advocacy organizations questioned the sincerity of Omar’s apology. David Bernstein, the president and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, said “it’s possible we have hit bedrock with the congresswoman.”
Roz Rothstein, the co-founder and CEO of StandWithUS, an international Israel education organization that works to fight anti-Semitism, said “the fact that Congresswoman Omar doubled down and amplified claims about AIPAC which were quickly exposed as misleading calls her judgment and sincerity into question.”
Many of the Jewish leaders and groups contacted by the Washington Examiner questioned Omar's ability to serve on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, who said they “are in touch” with Omar’s office about her most recent comments, released a statement Monday saying “such rhetoric puts our community in danger, should have no place in our politics, and undermines efforts to achieve Middle East peace.”
“I think she’ll have trouble seeing both sides of the issues in the Middle East," said Latz.
Bernstein said he was “very disturbed" to watch Omar, on Wednesday, cross-examine President Trump’s special envoy to Venezuela, Elliot Abrams, a long-time supporter of Israel. “She simply can’t help herself," Bernstein said.
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