Ilhan Omar under fire after naming Jewish donors to her challenger

Democratic US lawmaker issues campaign mailer listing backers of opponent Antone Melton-Meaux, which critic says used ‘offensive tropes’; others defend it

US Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks to witnesses during a House Committee on the Judiciary‚ Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship and Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations joint hearing on the administration's 'Muslim ban' on Capitol Hill in Washington, September 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
US Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks to witnesses during a House Committee on the Judiciary‚ Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship and Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations joint hearing on the administration's 'Muslim ban' on Capitol Hill in Washington, September 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — US lawmaker Ilhan Omar has come under fire for a campaign mailer that names three Jewish donors to her Democratic primary opponent.

“Can We Trust Antone Melton-Meaux’s Money?” said the mailer obtained by Vice News, which posted a story on Thursday.

The flyer features quotes that have appeared in US media from people outside the Minnesota congressional district who are giving to Melton-Meaux, Omar’s challenger in the Democratic primary on August 11. It also cites others.

Among those mentioned are billionaires Seth Klarman, a hedge fund executive and the co-founder and chief financial backer of The Times of Israel, and Jonathan Gray, president of the Blackstone Group private equity firm. Those quoted include Stanley Weinstein, a retired real estate executive from Miami Beach, and someone named Michael of Scarsdale, New York.

Rabbi Avi Olitzky of St. Louis Park, a Minneapolis suburb, who has defended Omar against previous claims that she is anti-Semitic, told Vice News he was “beyond dismayed.”

“Most disappointing were the presence of tropes that we’d personally discussed as hurtful, as offensive, and that I received a commitment not only would it not happen again but education would take place to learn more as to why it’s a problem,” said Olitzky, who had met with Omar last year after she was criticized for a number of statements in which she imputed undue influence to pro-Israel groups. She apologized for some but not all of her remarks.

Omar is leading in the only known poll by double digits, but Melton-Meaux has out-raised the incumbent: $3.2 million to less than $500,000 in the last quarter. The challenger, a lawyer, is drawing support from pro-Israel donors. Omar is one of two representatives in Congress who back the boycott Israel movement; the other is Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat.

Vice also quoted Jewish figures defending Omar.

“The campaign is just speaking truthfully and honestly about opposition to its agenda and the counter-movement against progressive change in this country,” Evan Stern, a local progressive activist, told Vice.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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