JTA — As Democrats lined up to accept the apology of US Rep. Ilhan Omar over tweets many critics regarded as anti-Semitic, the Minnesota Democrat fired back at US President Donald Trump over his call for her resignation.
“You have trafficked in hate your whole life — against Jews, Muslims, Indigenous, immigrants, black people and more,” Omar tweeted Wednesday. “I learned from people impacted by my words. When will you?”
She was responding to a comment Trump made Tuesday.
“It’s terrible what she said and I think she should either resign from Congress, or she should certainly resign from the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” Trump told reporters at the start of a Cabinet meeting. “What she said is so deep-seated in her heart that her lame apology, and that’s what it was, it was lame and she didn’t mean a word of it, was just not appropriate. I think she should resign from Congress.”
Omar, in her first term in the Congress, said Sunday on Twitter that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee pays lawmakers to be pro-Israel, tweeting that congressional support is “all about the Benjamins.” After Republicans and Democrats, including the Democratic leadership in the US House of Representatives, accused her of trafficking in stereotypes about Jews and money, she said she “unequivocally” apologized after speaking with “Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes.”
Some Republicans and pro-Israel groups also have called for Omar to be stripped of her position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and other assignments, comparing her to Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who lost his committee assignments last month after questioning why the terms “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” had become offensive.
Many Democrats have countered that Omar apologized, and noted that it took more than a decade for GOP leadership to take action against King, who over that period made a series of controversial comments about race and immigration.
“A newcomer member of Congress has apologized for her remarks,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN reporter Elizabeth Landers. “It took them what, 13 years to notice Steve King?”
Pelosi also said that the Republicans “shouldn’t go down this path, they do not have clean hands.” She singled out Trump rallies at which supporters chanted “Jew S.A., Jew S.A.”, from which the president never distanced himself.
Meanwhile, Jamil Dakwar, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Human Rights Program, waded into the debate with a tweet on Tuesday saying that Omar’s critics are trying to “silence her and boot her out of Congress for her courageous positions on foreign policy issues including her support to the BDS movement.”
Dakwar said he was speaking for himself, not the ACLU, which he said does not have a position on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel.
The organization led the opposition this month to a Senate bill that included measures making it easier for states to pass laws punishing supporters of the boycott. The ACLU said such laws infringe on the constitutional right to free speech. The bill passed the Senate last week by a vote of 77-23.
Nearly all the Democrats who voted against the bill said they don’t support the boycott but objected on free speech grounds. Some critics said online that if the ACLU were seen as pro-BDS, it would undermine the Democrats’ position on anti-boycott bills.