Nancy Pelosi, Other Democratic Leaders Call on Ilhan Omar to Apologize, Claim She Used 'Anti-Semitic Tropes'

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, as well as other Democratic leaders—criticized fellow Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar for what they said in a statement were "anti-Semitic comments" the freshman congresswoman made on Twitter Sunday.

"Anti-Semitism must be called out, confronted and condemned whenever it is encountered, without exception," the statement released by Pelosi read.

It added, in part:

"We are and will always be strong supporters of Israel in Congress because we understand that our support is based on shared values and strategic interests. Legitimate criticism of Israel's policies is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share. But Congresswoman Omar's use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel's supporters is deeply offensive. We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments."

Omar has drawn criticism from tweets she posted regarding Israel. Omar posted "It's all about the Benjamins baby" in response to a tweet from journalist Glenn Greenwald that read: "GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens punishment for @IlhanMN and @RashidaTlaib over their criticisms of Israel. It's stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans."

nancy pelosi ihan anti semitic
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks during a news conference on February 7, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Batya Ungar-Sargon‏, opinion editor at the Forward, then posted: "Would love to know who @IlhanMN thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel, though I think I can guess. Bad form, Congresswoman. That's the second anti-Semitic trope you've tweeted."

Omar responded to that by saying "AIPAC," referring to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful pro-Israel advocacy group. Omar has been critical of Israel's treatment of Palestinians and supported the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement that looks to put financial and political pressure on Israel.

In a statement on Monday, Omar apologized and said she was grateful for "Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes." She did, however, "reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA, or the fossil fuel industry."

In a tweet on Monday, Pelosi said that she and Omar had talked. "In our conversation today, Congresswoman Omar and I agreed that we must use this moment to move forward as we reject anti-Semitism in all forms," Pelosi wrote.

Update (02/11/10, 3 p.m. ET): This story was updated to include a statement from Representative Ilhan Omar.