21:03 GMT21 January 2021
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    One of the first two Muslim congresswomen in US history, Ilhan Omar, has faced accusations of anti-Semitism in the past. However, she has insisted that her criticism of the Israeli government and Israel's influence on US politics don't make her an anti-Semite.

    Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar has triggered torrents of outrage among politicians from both sides of the aisle after hinting that pro-Israel lobbyists sway US politicians to support the Jewish state.

    On Sunday, journalist Glenn Greenwald retweeted a Haaretz article reporting that House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy had threatened to take "action" against Omar and another Muslim congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib, over their criticisms of Israel and perceived anti-Semitism.

    READ MORE: Trump Administration Finishes Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan – Reports

    Both lawmakers back the Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment (BDS) campaign, which accuses Israel of apartheid and condemns the occupation of Palestine, urging the use of non-violent pressure on Israel in a bid to force it to end the alleged violation of Palestinians' rights.

    Ilhan Omar quipped, "It's all about the Benjamins baby", invoking American rapper Puff Daddy's 1997 song in a veiled dig at the Israeli lobby in the United States.

    Journalist Batya Ungar-Sargon was quick to accuse Omar of another anti-Semitic trope, and the freshman lawmaker wrote one word in response:"AIPAC!"

    AIPAC stands for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful pro-Israel lobbying group that has earlier faced accusations of campaigning against the Iran nuclear deal and derailing the peace process in the Middle East.

    Omar, who was sworn in last month and became the first woman to wear a hijab as a member of Congress, found herself at the centre of a Twitterstorm in no time.

    Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said that Omar's statements "cannot be tolerated in our own Congress by anyone of either party. In a time of increased anti-Semitism, we all must be held to account. No excuses."

    Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton joined in, stating that "we should expect all elected officials, regardless of party, and all public figures to not traffic in anti-Semitism."

    Matt Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, has called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer to speak out on Omar's remarks.

    "Are you suggesting AIPAC is paying members of Congress?" inquired Politico's Jake Sherman.

    "Congresswoman Omar's statements are deeply hurtful to Jews, including myself," tweeted freshman Rep. Max Rose (D-NY). "Implying that Americans support Israel because of money alone is offensive enough. But to go a step further and retweet someone declaring their pain at her sentiment is simply unacceptable."

    "We are proud that we are engaged in the democratic process to strengthen the US-Israel relationship. Our bipartisan efforts are reflective of American values and interests. We will not be deterred in any way by ill-informed and illegitimate attacks on this important work," AIPAC said in a statement.

    This is not the first time Omar has been chastised for her perceived anti-Semitism — accusations she has denied. In late January, she criticised Washington's stance on Tel Aviv, saying that she "almost chuckles" when the US upholds Israel "as a democracy in the Middle East".

    She was also called out for a 2012 tweet that read "Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel", but later repeatedly apologised for it.


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    lobby, anti-Semitism, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Nikki Haley, Nancy Pelosi, Chelsea Clinton, Israel, US
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