Ilhan Omar joins newly formed black-Jewish congressional caucus
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Ilhan Omar joins newly formed black-Jewish congressional caucus

Minnesota Democrat, who has been accused of trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes, becomes member of bipartisan group aiming to combat white supremacism

Illustrative: Rep Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., speaks in support of LGBTQ high school students, March 21, 2019 in St. Paul, Minnesota. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Illustrative: Rep Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., speaks in support of LGBTQ high school students, March 21, 2019 in St. Paul, Minnesota. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

JTA — Rep. Ilhan Omar will participate in a new bipartisan black-Jewish congressional caucus.

On Thursday, the Minnesota Democrat’s spokesman, Jeremy Slevin, confirmed to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that she was planning to join the group.

On Monday, three black and two Jewish members of the US House of Representatives from both parties launched the caucus.

The caucus, launched after a meeting convened by the American Jewish Committee in January, will work to bring blacks and Jews together to back hate crimes legislation and combat white supremacist ideology and actions.

The members are Reps. Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich, Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., Will Hurd, R-Texas and John Lewis, D-Ga., a revered veteran of the 1960s civil rights movement.

Omar expressed her support for the caucus in a tweet on Wednesday. She later clarified that her endorsement of the caucus wasn’t an endorsement of Zeldin, with whom she has feuded on Twitter.

The Jewish Republican has called the Muslim Democrat anti-Semitic. She has retweeted others who called Zeldin Islamophobic. In a tweet about the black-Jewish caucus, she wrote of “Zeldin’s bigotry.” Zeldin in turn accused Omar of trying to “poison” the new coalition.

In February, Omar drew wide condemnation for a tweet in which she seemed to say that US support for Israel had to do with donations from the pro-Israel lobby. Many said the tweet drew on anti-Semitic tropes about Jewish influence and money. Previously, she drew criticism for a 2012 tweet, in which she said that Israel had “hypnotized” the world.

The American Jewish Committee said it hoped being part of the caucus “will sensitize Rep. Omar to the importance, history and achievements of Black-Jewish relations in our country.”

“That would be the best possible outcome,” said Kenneth Bandler, the group’s director of media relations in an email to JTA.

Not to be outdone, Omar tweeted that “my hope here is that Zeldin can learn and grow.”

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