Democratic faction support for Ilhan Omar in anti-Semitism spat

Muslim congresswoman was accused of anti-Semitism after questioning Jewish lobbying influence on US politics

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash. and Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisc.

An alliance of progressives and liberals in U.S. Congress on Wednesday voiced support for Ilhan Omar, the first congresswoman to wear hijab who has recently been accused of anti-Semitism.

In a written statement, Mark Pocan and Pramila Jayapal, the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus which is affiliated with the Democratic Party, responded to President Donald Trump’s call for Omar’s resignation over her statements on the Jewish lobbying groups in the U.S.

“President Trump’s remarks calling for Representative Ilhan Omar’s resignation are disgraceful and, unfortunately, unsurprising. As a candidate and now president, Donald Trump has consistently and unapologetically trafficked in white nationalism, Islamophobia, sexism, and racism. Let us not forget that this president referred to violent neo-Nazis as ‘very fine people’,” the statement read.

Pocan and Jayapal saluted Omar’s apology and said: “As a Somali American immigrant of Muslim faith, Representative Omar plays a vital role in the most diverse Congress in history. Americans of all political stripes must reject this transparently cynical effort by President Trump and Congressional Republicans to stifle and intimidate voices such as hers.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, slammed Trump in a Twitter post: “Unlike this president, Representative Ilhan Omar demonstrated a capacity to acknowledge the pain and apologize, use the opportunity to learn about the history of antisemitism, and grow from it while clarifying her stance.”

Alleged anti-Semitism

“It’s all about the Benjamins baby 🎶,” Omar wrote in a Twitter post that subtweeted a story about House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy threatening “action” against Omar and Rashida Tlaib for comments critical of Israel.

The tweet received hefty criticism from Republicans and Democrats, who called the post “anti-Semitic”.

After facing pressure from the Democratic Party, Omar issued an apology for her comments, yet maintained there is a “problematic role of lobbyists in our politics,” pointing to not only AIPAC but the National Rifle Association and the fossil fuel lobby.

“Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes, Omar said in a statement posted Monday. “My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole,” her statement read.

Trump, speaking at the White House on Tuesday, said: “I think she should either resign from Congress or she should certainly resign from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.”

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