Omar feuds with fellow Democrat over support of Israel

Omar feuds with fellow Democrat over support of Israel
© Stefani Reynolds

Democratic Reps. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarHillicon Valley: Progressives oppose funding bill over surveillance authority | Senators call for 5G security coordinator | Facebook gets questions over location tracking | Louisiana hit by ransomware attack Progressives oppose spending stopgap measure over surveillance authority extension Omar asks court to apply 'system of compassion' in sentencing man convicted of threatening her MORE (Minn.) and Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyOn The Money: House passes monthlong stopgap | Broader spending talks stall | Judge orders Democrats to give notice if they request Trump's NY tax returns | Progressives ramp up attacks on private equity House passes stopgap as spending talks stall Key GOP senator: 'We need a breakthrough' on spending talks MORE (N.Y.) feuded Sunday over support of Israel and alleged anti-Semitic comments.

Lowey tweeted Saturday that Omar has a tendency to "mischaracterize" support for Israel from American lawmakers.

"Lawmakers must be able to debate w/o prejudice or bigotry," she wrote. "I am saddened that Rep. Omar continues to mischaracterize support for Israel. I urge her to retract this statement and engage in further dialogue with the Jewish community on why these comments are so hurtful."

Omar responded to Lowey, saying that she is simply trying to question the foundation of American relations with Israel.

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"Our democracy is built on debate, Congresswoman! I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee. The people of the 5th elected me to serve their interest. I am sure we agree on that!" the first-year representative tweeted.

"I have not mischaracterized our relationship with Israel, I have questioned it and that has been clear from my end."

Omar continued to argue that she finds it problematic that she is called anti-American if she is not pro-Israel.

"Being opposed to Netanyahu and the occupation is not the same as being anti-Semitic," she added. "I am grateful to the many Jewish allies who have spoken out and said the same."

Lowey responded on Sunday, saying that no lawmaker is forced to swear allegiance to another country, but that accusations of "dual loyalty" are dangerous.

"No member of Congress is asked to swear allegiance to another country," she tweeted. "Throughout history, Jews have been accused of dual loyalty, leading to discrimination and violence, which is why these accusations are so hurtful."

Lowey initially tweeted in response to comments Omar made this week about the impact of special interest groups on foreign policy, specifically related to Israel.

“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” she said during an event at a Washington bookstore, according to The New York Times.

She went on to question why it was acceptable for her to criticize the influence of the National Rifle Association, fossil fuel industries and other special interest groups but not the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Other Democrats, including House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelMaloney wins vote for Oversight chairwoman Overnight Defense: Protests at Trump's NYC Veterans Day speech | House Dems release Pentagon official's deposition transcript | Lawmakers ask Trump to rescind Erdogan invite Bipartisan House members call on Trump to rescind Erdoğan invitation MORE (D-N.Y.), slammed those comments as anti-Semitic.

Omar's office has responded to that criticism by noting that she has apologized for past comments and that it is important to differentiate between criticism of a religion and criticism of lobbying groups.

The concept of dual loyalty refers to the historical tendency of countries to accuse Jews of secretly valuing their loyalty to Israel over their home country.

The Minnesota lawmaker's comments about Israel have garnered her significant bipartisan criticism since she took office.

Omar wrote in since-deleted tweets earlier this month that U.S. politicians' defense of Israel was "all about the Benjamins baby," while adding that AIPAC was funding lawmakers who criticized her stance.

Top Democrats issued a joint statement condemning the remarks and calling for Omar to apologize, which she did.

Omar said she meant no harm with the comments and would try to learn more about the history of anti-Semitism.