Ilhan

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) didn’t shy away from attacking fellow Democrat Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) in a speech to a pro-Israel lobbying group.

Schumer, who is Jewish, recently appeared at the annual conference held by the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) — one of the most influential lobbying groups in Washington — to speak about his support for and commitment to Israel as the highest-ranking Democrat in the U.S. Senate.

However, Schumer veered off of that topic and focused one bit of his speech on attacking Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who made headlines for two recent statements (one of which she apologized for) suggesting the Israel lobby in Washington was too powerful. Without saying his name, Schumer invoked President Trump in his criticism of Rep. Omar’s comments that some of her fellow lawmakers “push for allegiance to a foreign country” in their steadfast support of Israel at the expense of the U.S.

“When someone says that being Jewish and supporting Israel means you’re not loyal to America, we must call it out. When someone looks at a neo-Nazi rally and sees some ‘very fine people’ among its company, we must call it out,” Sen. Schumer said, referring to President Trump’s August 2017 press conference after the fatal “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.

While Ilhan Omar didn’t directly respond to Schumer’s speech on Twitter, she did respond to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attack on her for the “all about the Benjamins” tweet she has since deleted. In his speech, Netanyahu said, “From this Benjmain: It’s not about the Benjamins” (referring to $100 bills, a classic anti-Semitic trope that Jews control U.S. policy decisions with their money). Omar retorted that Netanyahu is under criminal indictment for bribery.

Congresswoman Omar — a Somali immigrant — is one of the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress (the other being Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib). She herself has been the victim of attacks, most recently being targeted by a full-page ad in The Washington Post placed by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who fabricated quotes from her and compared them to historically anti-Semitic texts like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Rep. Tlaib called the ad “fear-mongering” and said it only “serves to incite violence.”

Ilhan Omar was also the target of a poster displayed in the West Virginia state capitol sponsored by the West Virginia Republican Party that hinted the Minnesota Congresswoman was behind the 9/11 attacks. And Fox News host Jeanine Pirro has been suspended by the network after she used her national cable platform to claim that Rep. Omar’s decision to wear a hijab (a traditional Muslim head scarf) could mean she holds values “antithetical” to the Constitution.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who is Jewish, defended Omar from allegations of anti-Semitism, and said that criticizing the “right-wing, Netanyahu government” in Israel shouldn’t be misconstrued as hate toward the Jewish community.

 

Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.

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