Muslim US lawmaker apologises for remarks which triggered anti-Semitism row

Omar is facing massive backlash after she quote-tweeted a link to an article by Haaretz where House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy threatened punishment against Omar and Democratic Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, America's first two Muslim congresswomen; both Omar and Tlaib have been embroiled in allegations of anti-Semitism. In her apology, Omar added that she still believes there is a "problematic role" for lobbyists, whether it's AIPAC or the NRA.

On "The Ben Shapiro Show" Monday, Shapiro said Omar may have been rebuked by Democratic leaders, but he questioned why Democrats haven't pushed for a resolution of censure, which is a formal, public reprimand. Corbyn has been plagued with accusations of anti-Semitism and has a long history of condemning Israel while applauding anti-Jewish terrorist organizations.

"It's all about the Benjamins baby", she wrote, an apparent reference to the 1997 Puff Daddy single featuring the Notorious B.I.G., Lil' Kim and The Lox.

Later asked on Twitter who she thought was paying members of Congress to support Israel, Omar responded, "AIPAC!" "This is why I unequivocally apologize".

And while the US Senate has advanced a bill that takes aim at the boycott Israel movement, otherwise known as Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS), the intense pressure and scrutiny on congresswomen Tlaib and Omar is about to become ever more focused and vicious. Last month, she acknowledged that she "unknowingly" used an anti-Semitic trope after a 2012 tweet surfaced in which she said, "Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel".

But, Sen. Latz condemned the remarks and called Omar's apology insufficient.

The volume of outrage and cries of anti-Semitism from the USA establishment seemed to further bolster Omar's comments about the sway the Israel lobby holds over elected officials and the country's two leading political parties.

Democrat Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee of which Omar is a member, called it "shocking to hear a member of Congress invoke the anti-Semitic trope of 'Jewish money'".

Omar's response hit a nerve, alluding as it did to the centuries-old stereotype that Jewish moneymen secretly control governments from behind the scenes.

Sarsour's effort failed; by the middle of Monday afternoon, leadership, including Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), had issued statements chastising Omar for adopting and propagating anti-Semitic tropes.

Omar's fellow freshmen felt the strain. She backtracked and apologized after a New York Times columnist explained to her why Jews could find it offensive.

The Saudi monarchy also fears that progressive American voters and sentiments will pull the pair towards undermining the uncritical and unfettered U.S. support it has received and enjoyed courtesy of the Donald Trump administration. Omar apologized later that day.

Pelosi may face additional pressure to remove Omar from the Foreign Relations Committee, says KC Johnson, a professor at Brooklyn College and the City University of NY, who formerly taught at Tel-Aviv University.

In a series of undercover recordings obtained by Electronic Intifada, prominent AIPAC officials and donors who are part of the organization's "network" boasted about how their payments to American politicians have been instrumental in advancing Israeli interests, including "getting $38 billion in security aid to Israel" in the fall of 2016. She has countless times reiterated that her rejection of the Israeli government refers to its stance toward Palestinians and is not directed at Jewish people.

Ironically, smearing people as anti-Semites is a tactic employed by the Israel lobby both in the USA and theUK, as detailed in two Al Jazeera documentaries which saw an undercover reporter infiltrate both the United States and UK lobby to reveal methods employed by the groups.

Separately the Anti-Defamation League, an outside group formed to fight hate speech and anti-Semitism, also weighed in before Omar's apology, citing a tweet where she suggested politicians were being influenced by donations from Jewish groups.

People defending her left yellow notes of support on Omar's office nameplate on Capitol Hill.

Vanessa Coleman

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