Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) struggled to defend Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) amid her ongoing anti-Semitism scandal, saying that this was a “learning process” and people were “too hard” on Omar.
Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks came as members of the House voted on a resolution condemning all hate in response to Omar’s latest anti-Semitic remarks from over the weekend when she suggested that a Jewish member of Congress was expecting her to have dual loyalties to Israel.
“I think it’s a learning experience, and it’s part of the fact that when we elect the most diverse Democratic caucus that we have in pretty much ever, it means that we have new communities at the table, new conversations that need to be had, and we have to learn how to have conversations differently every time,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN’s Manu Raju.
“Do you think that Congresswoman Omar was unfairly singled out?” Raju asked Ocasio-Cortez.
Ocasio-Cortez responded: “You know I think that uh…I think that…you know I, I think that, that, uh, things came down on her a little too hard.”
Hours later, Ocasio-Cortez sent out a fundraising email asking for money from her constituents, claiming that she, Omar, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) were being targeted by the pro-Israel group AIPAC.
“It’s official — AIPAC is coming after Alexandria, Ilhan, and Rashida,” the email said. “Rashida, Ilhan, and Alexandria have at times dared to question our foreign policy, and the influence of money in our political system. And now, lobbying groups across the board are working to punish them for it.”
“Some members of Congress have even gone so far as to claim that ‘questioning support for the US-Israel relationship is unacceptable,'” the email continues. “But that’s not how our legislative process is supposed to work. Just a decade ago, it was ‘unquestionable’ to not support the war in Iraq. And we all saw what resulted from that lack of discussion and negotiation.”
Last week, Omar pushed a conspiracy theory that her “Jewish colleagues” had “designed” a plan “to end the debate” on Israel by accusing her being anti-Semitic.
“But at an event last night, Omar went much farther,” NYMag reported. “After an audience member shouted out, ‘It’s all about the Benjamins,’ at which she smiled, she proceeded to state, ‘I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.'”
“This is much worse. Accusing Jews of ‘allegiance to a foreign country’ is a historically classic way of delegitimizing their participation in the political system,” NYMag continued. “Whether or not the foreign policy agenda endorsed by American supporters of Israel is wise or humane, it is a legitimate expression of their political rights as American citizens. To believe in a strong American alliance with Israel (or Canada, or the United Kingdom, or any other country) is not the same thing as giving one’s allegiance to that country. Omar is directly invoking the hoary myth of dual loyalty, in which the Americanness of Jews is inherently suspect, and their political participation must be contingent upon proving their patriotism.”