Ilhan Omar’s Jewish trope tweet draws bipartisan fire from Florida
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, drew attention with a tweet suggesting support for Israel stemmed from money. PHOTO BY AP.

Ilhan Omar
Democrats and Republicans from Florida's Congressional delegation condemned remarks.

A short tweet by U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, set off a firestorm, with bipartisan outcry coming from the Florida Delegation.

Omar on Sunday suggested on Twitter support of Israel in Congress was “all about the Benjamins baby.” When asked what the Notorious B.I.G. quote could mean, her response on Twitter was “AIPAC!,” a reference to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, considered the remark conspiratorial.One of the oldest Anti-Semitic conspiracies is about Jewish money as an instrument of global domination,” he responded. “See the fake anti-Semitic ‘Protocols of Zion.’”

He seized on the moment to promote his anti-BDS-legislation, which looks to let states and cities blacklist companies boycotting Israel.

Omar’s comments drew criticism from her own party leadership, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. 

The barrage of criticism prompted a midday apology Monday from Omar.

“Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes. My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole,” she said.

“We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize.”

Omar is a Somali American refugee. She is also Muslim.

But in her apology, she affirmed criticism of AIPAC. “I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics,” she said, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry.”

U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan, a Sarasota Republican, and Ted Deutch, a Boca Raton Democrat, both scolded Omar’s “Benjamins” comments as bigotry against Jews.

Deutch, who is one of three Jewish members of the Florida Delegation, labeled the words anti-Semitic tropes.

“The use of stereotypes and offensive rhetoric by Members of Congress, whether anti-Semitic or racist, must end,” he said in a statement.

Buchanan similarly chimed in.

“Anti-Semitism has no place in this country, let alone in the halls of Congress,” he said. “Omar should apologize for her hateful and offensive remarks about Jewish money influencing public policy.”

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, a Florida Republican, immediately slammed the comments and labeled Israel “a great ally and friend.”

“The anti-Semitism that has long existed in the fringes has found its way to the United States Congress in the form of extreme liberals like Congresswoman Ilhan Omar,” he said. “Elected officials should hold themselves to a higher standard, and Congresswoman Omar should be ashamed of her offensive and insensitive remarks.”

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, didn’t call out Omar by name but condemned the use of negative generalizations.

“The line between respectful critiques of American foreign policy and the embrace of anti-Semitic tropes is not difficult to distinguish,” he said. “Implying that Americans support Israel and the Jewish community because of money is offensive and cannot be tolerated.”

Likewise, U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, a West Palm Beach Democrat, avoided Omar’s name but voiced concerns on language.

“Let’s work together respectfully towards a two-state solution where there is peace and prosperity for all in the region,” said Frankel, who also is Jewish. “I denounce anti-Semitism and all forms of religious bigotry.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz,  the first Jewish Congresswoman from Florida,  condemned Omar’s statements.

“Representative Ilhan Omar’s recent tweets implying that American support for Israel is driven by money, rather than shared interests and values, are alarming, offensive, and disturbing. They rely on anti-Semitic tropes that are centuries old and have no place today in America or the halls of Congress,” Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat from Weston, said in a statement she posted on Twitter.

“These latest harmful and damaging remarks regarding our support for our most valued key US ally in the Middle East cannot go unchallenged. Silence is not an option here, no matter from whom the words are uttered,” she said.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]

One comment

  • Jareth Watson

    February 12, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    Unfortunately for the rest of humanity, when a group sharing an agenda own the media they are in a position to create perceived truth via repetition of a statement even if that statement be a falsehood. As in the “fake” Protocols of Zion.
    Anyone who has read these Protocols and studied the issue thoroughly recognises three things:
    1) The ‘Protocols’ were written by a genius.
    2) They describe the world as it is with extraordinary accuracy and prescience.
    3) Their being declared “fake” (in the early 1920’s) was an establishment reaction to the demands of the likes of Lord Northcliffe to having their origins properly investigated (and this has never happened).

    Just one extract might be of interest in the context of this article:
    From Protocol 9: ” … DE FACTO we have already wiped out every kind of rule except our own, although DE JURE there still remain a good many of them. Nowadays, if any States raise a protest against us it is only PROFORMA at our discretion and by our direction, for THEIR ANTI-SEMITISM IS INDISPENSABLE TO US FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF OUR LESSER BRETHREN. I will not enter into further explanations, for this matter has formed the subject of repeated discussions amongst us….”

    (i.e. “anti-Semitism” is an indispensible instrument of the over-power that owns our governments in protecting themselves from scrutiny and against attacks by ‘the goyim’.) anyone who supports these people is a Luciferian and, given that the material universe is an illusion rendered to our minds for the moral improvement of our minds (as the ‘Simulation’ model of reality that resolves the anomalies that arise within quantum Physics theory implies and will, in time, affirm), a genuine idiot.

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