Zeldin slams Omar for 'lack of empathy' in her apology

Rep. Lee ZeldinLee ZeldinDCCC reserves new ad buys in competitive districts, adds new members to 'Red to Blue' program Overnight Defense: House panel probes Pompeo's convention speech | UN council rejects US demand to restore Iran sanctions | Court rules against Pentagon policy slowing expedited citizenship The Hill's 12:30 Report: Republicans conduct in-person convention roll call MORE (R-N.Y.) on Tuesday said the “lack of empathy” in Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarOmar urges Democrats to focus on nonvoters over 'disaffected Trump voters' Omar fires back at Trump over rally remarks: 'This is my country' Trump attacks Omar for criticizing US: 'How did you do where you came from?' MORE’s (D-Minn.) apology over what both parties have condemned as anti-Semitic tweets is "greatly concerning."

Omar released a statement apologizing for her series of tweets — which suggested members of Congress only support Israel for financial gain — on Monday after being urged to do so by Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiAirline industry applauds Democrats for including aid in coronavirus relief package Democrats unveil scaled-down .2T coronavirus relief package Trump tax reveal roils presidential race MORE (D-Calif.).

Zeldin, who practices Judaism, said he doesn’t believe her apology was genuine or would have happened if Democratic leaders hadn’t intervened.


“Basically she stated it was an unequivocal apology and the apology was filled with equivocation,” he told The Hill Tuesday, responding to a video that surfaced online in which a CNN reporter pressed her on her apology. Omar responded by referring the reporter to her statement. 

“The apology was obviously forced — this is not something that she did on her own initiative and I don't believe it's going to be enough to stop the problematic behavior."

The New York Republican has traded barbs before with the freshman Minnesota Democrat after he criticized her appointment to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. 

“Don’t mind him, he is just waking up to the reality of having Muslim women as colleagues who know how to stand up to bullies!” Omar, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, tweeted. “It’s gonna be fun watching him lose his marbles.”

Zeldin responded by writing: “Those poor innocent ISIS fighters & Palestinian terrorists right? Give me a break! That’s a problem no matter your religion or gender Ilhan. Your anti-Semitic & anti-Israel hate is strong & wrong & those terrorists have US blood on their hands as well.”


After Zeldin shared an anti-Semitic voicemail left at his office, Omar, a refugee from Somalia, reached out by suggesting the two meet for a discussion over Somali tea. That meeting had yet to happen. 

Zeldin on Tuesday said his office is still in talks with Omar’s staff about meeting to discuss their positions on Israel.

“My chief of staff has been going back and forth with her chief staff, my schedule with hers, and we're just waiting for available dates,” he said. “I'll meet with any colleague, either side of the aisle — I'm sure there will be a lot to talk about where we disagree, but I have no problem having the conversation."