Rep. Tlaib Defends Rep. Omar Amid Anti-Semitism Controversy: She's 'Targeted' Like 'Civil Rights Icons'

|
Posted: Mar 04, 2019 12:15 PM
Rep. Tlaib Defends Rep. Omar Amid Anti-Semitism Controversy: She's 'Targeted' Like 'Civil Rights Icons'

Source: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

While several top Democrats have continued to criticize Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for her comments about Israel, her fellow freshman lawmaker Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) offered high praise for her Monday. She tweeted that Omar “is being targeted just like many civil rights icons before us who spoke out about oppressive policies” over the criticism she’s faced for comments that many view as anti-Semitic.

Rep. Omar drew bipartisan criticism last month when she implied that some members of Congress were influenced by donations to defend Israel. While she partly apologized for those remarks, she maintained that she is concerned about the “role” that groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) play in U.S. politics.

Despite past apologies, Rep. Omar made similar remarks at a bookstore discussion in D.C. last week where she said she wanted “to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

Jewish leaders and fellow lawmakers condemned those comments as an anti-Semitic trope suggesting divided loyalties to the U.S. and Israel among Jewish-Americans. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, condemned her remarks in a statement Friday.

“I welcome debate in Congress based on the merits of policy, but it’s unacceptable and deeply offensive to call into question the loyalty of fellow American citizens because of their political views, including support for the U.S.-Israel relationship,” he wrote. “Her comments were outrageous and deeply hurtful, and I ask that she retract them, apologize, and commit to making her case on policy issues without resorting to attacks that have no place in the Foreign Affairs Committee or the House of Representatives.”

Far from retracting her remarks, Omar wrote a series of tweets Sunday defending her position after further criticism from Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY).

Rep. Lowey responded by explaining why the dual loyalty claim was so harmful and clarifying that members of Congress are asked to swear allegiance to another country.

In an earlier tweet, Lowey also condemned any Islamophobia directed at Omar.