AIPAC Uses Political Storm Over Ilhan Omar Tweets to Raise Donations

Pro-Israel lobby urges donors in email to give money as answer to congresswoman's tweets that U.S. support for Israel is 'all about the Benjamins'

Rep. Ilhan Omar arrives for U.S. President Donald Trump's State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 5, 2019.
Carolyn Kaster,AP

WASHINGTON – The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is using a tweet by Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar that was criticized as being anti-Semitic for fundraising purposes.

The pro-Israel lobby sent its donors an email on Tuesday urging them to give money to the group as an answer to Omar’s tweets earlier this week, in which she accused AIPAC of using money to “buy” members of Congress and said that U.S. support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins baby.”

When asked on Twitter what she meant by the comment, Omar replied "AIPAC!"

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In emails distributed to donors and supporters, AIPAC officials wrote: “We are proud that members of Congress from both sides of the aisle continue to stand together to condemn illegitimate attacks on the pro-Israel community. And we are determined to continue our bipartisan efforts in support of the shared values that unite America and Israel. Please renew your commitment to this important work today by clicking here.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamina Netanyahu speaks before the AIPAC convention in Washington, July 26, 2018
Haim Zach / GPO

Under this paragraph and a link for online donations are contribution options ranging from $15 to $250 or more. The email also states: “We are proud as Americans to participate in our democratic process to effect change, and we are determined to exercise that right to help keep Israel safe.”

Following backlash and condemnation from both sides of the political aisle, Omar swiftly apologized for her comments

“Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,” Omar wrote. “My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize.”

While many accepted the apology, U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday he thought Omar was insincere and should resign from Congress.

"What she said is so deep-seated in her heart,” he said, referring to the comments, adding that the Minnesota representative’s apology was "lame and she didn’t mean a word of it.”