Ilhan Omar Feuds With Fellow Democrat Over Alleged Anti-Semitic Comments: 'Democracy Is Built on Debate'

Democratic Representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Nita Lowey of New York feuded on social media over the weekend about alleged anti-Semitism and support of Israel.

On Saturday, Lowey accused Omar of continuing to "mischaracterize" support for Israel among U.S. lawmakers. "Gross islamophobic stereotypes—like those about @IlhanMN recently featured on posters in WVA—are offensive and have no place in political discourse," she tweeted. "Anti-Semitic tropes that accuse Jews of dual loyalty are equally painful and must also be roundly condemned."

In another tweet, Lowey said: "Lawmakers must be able to debate w/o prejudice or bigotry. I am saddened that Rep. Omar continues to mischaracterize support for Israel. I urge her to retract this statement and engage in further dialogue with the Jewish community on why these comments are so hurtful."

Omar responded by defending her position, arguing that she had every right to question American-Israeli relations as her "allegiance" lies only with the people who elected her to Congress.

"Our democracy is built on debate, Congresswoman! I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee," the freshman congresswoman tweeted. "The people of the 5th elected me to serve their interest. I am sure we agree on that!"

"I have not mischaracterized our relationship with Israel, I have questioned it and that has been clear from my end," she continued in another tweet.

Omar then said that "being opposed to [Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin] Netanyahu and the occupation is not the same as being anti-Semitic.

"I am grateful to the many Jewish allies who have spoken out and said the same," the congresswoman added.

Lowey on Sunday agreed that Congress members aren't forced to "swear allegiance to another country," but pointed out that accusations of "dual loyalty" against Jewish people can be "hurtful.

"No member of Congress is asked to swear allegiance to another country," she wrote. "Throughout history, Jews have been accused of dual loyalty, leading to discrimination and violence, which is why these accusations are so hurtful."

Lowey's initial tweet on Saturday came after Omar questioned the effects of special interest groups on foreign policy. "I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country," she said at a bookstore event in Washington this week, reported The New York Times, before she asked why she couldn't criticize the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) when it was acceptable to condemn the NRA's influence.

Last month, Omar apologized for posting tweets that suggested that AIPAC bought influence over U.S. politicians after Democratic leaders called her comments "deeply offensive."

Despite the apology, President Donald Trump condemned the Minnesota lawmaker and called on her to resign.

"Anti-Semitism has no place in the United States Congress, and I think she should either resign from Congress or she should certainly resign from the House Foreign Affairs Committee," the president said, adding that her comments were "deep-seated in her heart."

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Representative Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, speaks at a news conference calling on Congress to cut funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and to defund border detention facilities, on February 7. Getty/Saul Loeb
Ilhan Omar Feuds With Fellow Democrat Over Alleged Anti-Semitic Comments: 'Democracy Is Built on Debate' | U.S.