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US pro-Israel group raises $400,000 to boost Ilhan Omar’s primary challenger

Pro-Israel America, which was created by former AIPAC staffers, pumps big money into unseating Minnesota congresswoman

Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota participates in a panel during a campaign event in Clive, Iowa, on January 31, 2020. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)
Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota participates in a panel during a campaign event in Clive, Iowa, on January 31, 2020. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

WASHINGTON — A pro-Israel group has raised nearly $400,000 to target Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and boost her primary challenger in an election next month.

Pro-Israel America, which bolsters Congressional candidates who are traditionally supportive of the Jewish state, announced Wednesday that it has funneled $397,000 into Antone Melton-Meaux’s 2020 campaign.

Melton-Meaux, an attorney, is running to unseat Omar in Minnesota’s August 11 primary.

The contest has already seen more than $10 million in campaign spending, a surge in volunteer activity and negative attacks from both sides.

As of this writing, Omar has outraised her opponent by more than $126,000, and has outspent him by more than $1 million, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Pro-Israel America’s cash injection into the race comes as some pro-Israel groups are trying to remove the freshman congresswoman from office.

Antone Melton-Meaux, one of four challengers to Ilhan Omar in the Aug. 11 primary, on July 6, 2020 (Screen grab/YouTube)

The political action committee NORPAC, a New York City-area group that supports pro-Israel candidates, has also pumped $106,000 into Melton-Meax’s campaign.

Pro-Israel America, which was established in March 2019, is run by former staffers of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

One of them, board chair Jonathan Missner, said Wednesday that Omar has “made divisive antisemitic comments and has continuously worked against advancing the US-Israel alliance.”

Last year, the Minnesota legislator suggested that American officials supported Israel because they were beholden to wealthy Jewish donors via AIPAC.

“It’s all about the Benjamins, baby,” she tweeted. When a journalist asked who was paying politicians to back Israel, she responded: “Aipac!” After the Anti-Defamation League, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and scores of other Democrats castigated Omar’s comments, she apologized.

The Israeli government denied Omar — along with the Palestinian-American Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib — entry into the country last year for supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

Under a controversial 2017 Israeli law, the nation can ban any foreigner who knowingly promotes boycotts of Israel.

Omar, who is one of the two first female Muslim members of Congress, has also been among the most vocal on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

For instance, she has called for the US to condition aid to Israel based on the country’s behavior and policies toward the Palestinians.

In June, she signed onto a letter, orchestrated by New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to reduce American aid to Israel if it followed through on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank.

Netanyahu has vowed to annex all settlements and the Jordan Valley — the areas allocated to Israel under US President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan, which conditionally envisions a Palestinian state in the remaining territory with land swaps. However, his initiative has since stalled and it is unclear when it will advance.

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