US Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota defended previous comments she made that were criticized for their antisemitic overtones by claiming she was not aware that insinuating that Jews wield influence or power could be construed as antisemitic – an explanation many are not buying.
”I wasn’t aware of the fact that there are tropes about Jews and money. That has been a very enlightening part of this journey,” Omar said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Omar, who has been critical of what she has called Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, tweeted in 2019 that the Israel lobby’s influence on lawmakers was “All about the Benjamin’s. (sic)”
Omar, the Somali-born representative who has become known as a member of “The Squad” – the controversial new-age liberal congress members who have become known as vocal critics of Israel – also defended her 2012 tweet where she said Israel has “hypnotized” the world, telling CNN she was not aware that the word ‘hypnotized’ could be considered an antisemitic a trope.
“To insinuate that I knowingly said these things when people have read into my comments to make it sound as if I have something against the Jewish community is so wrong,” she continued.
Pro-Israel activists skeptical of Omar’s explanation
“Democrat Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is not only an anti-Semite but also a bad liar,” leading Israeli Jewish influencer and human rights activist Hananya Naftali tweeted.
Democrat Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is not only an anti-Semite but also a bad liar.
"I didn't know there were stereotypes about Jews and money." Spare me. pic.twitter.com/i0pHpqzYJq
— Hananya Naftali (@HananyaNaftali) January 29, 2023
American Jewish Committee Managing Director of Public Affairs and Senior Spokesperson Avi Mayer also spoke out about Omar’s explanation.
“Ilhan Omar employed one antisemitic trope in 2012, after which she said learned all about antisemitism ‘from Jewish orgs.’ She then employed another one in 2019,” Mayer explained.
Omar called out former President Donald Trump for his antisemitic comments in October, saying “The hypocrisy of the Republicans is blatantly clear… they are not rushing out to condemn the former President who knowingly, repeatedly invokes dual loyalty tropes that are harmful and dangerous.”
“Antisemitism is on the rise and all of us have a responsibility to condemn it,” Omar declared.
Noa Rosen contributed to this report.
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