On Monday, Democrats representing South Florida in Congress tore into U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., one of the first Muslim women ever elected to Congress.

Omar drew national fire for her tweet on Sunday when she posted “it’s all about the Benjamins baby,” insisting the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was buying off politicians.

Daniel Shapiro, who served as ambassador to Israel in the Obama administration, slammed Omar, insisting her “outrageous comments equating politicians’ support for Israel with being bought off by American Jewish money are a vile anti-Semitic trope.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., also took aim at Omar though she also jabbed President Donald Trump and U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on the matter as well.

“As a member of Congress and the first Jewish congresswoman from Florida, as I have in the past, I feel compelled to speak out against hurtful, anti-Semitic statements on both the right and the left. Therefore, I must do so today,” she said on Monday. “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.

“Equally important, I am watching with great concern the actions of the president and Leader McCarthy – who have both trafficked in anti-Semitic tropes themselves – regarding their attempt to purposely make Israel a partisan issue and use Israel as a partisan weapon when in reality, there is overwhelming, bipartisan support for Israel in Congress. This consciously erroneous effort to make Democrats appear anti-Israel is not only harmful, but damaging to the strong, long-standing U.S.-Israel relationship, and it must stop,” she added.

“Democrats have been strong and consistent supporters of Israel,” Wasserman Schultz said. “That backing spans from as far back as the party’s 1944 platform, which called for a ‘free and democratic Jewish commonwealth,’ up to the most recent 2016 platform, which emphatically lays out why a ‘strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States.’ 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.”

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., the chairman of the U.S. House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, also came out swinging at Omar.

“Trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes is unacceptable and deeply worrisome to the Jewish community,” he said. “The use of stereotypes and offensive rhetoric by members of Congress, whether anti-Semitic or racist, must come to an end. They should never be a part of any conversation about the policies of Congress. They do not belong in any conversation, period. I look forward to exploring productive and effective ways to ensure that all my colleagues understand why this is so hurtful to me and my community and why it cannot be tolerated in the U.S. House or Senate.”


Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.

Kevin Derby
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