Ilhan Omar Criticized for Mailer Naming Three Donors to Her Challenger, All Jewish

Omar is leading the Democratic primary in Minnesota, but Antone Melton-Meaux has outraised her, partly thanks to support from pro-Israel donors

JTA
Ron Kampeas
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Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks during a press conference in St. Paul, Minnesota, July 7, 2020.
Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks during a press conference in St. Paul, Minnesota, July 7, 2020.Credit: AFP
JTA
Ron Kampeas

Rep. Ilhan Omar has come under fire for a campaign mailer that names three donors to her Democratic primary opponent, and they are all Jewish.

“Can We Trust Antone Melton-Meaux’s Money?” said the mailer obtained by Vice News, which posted a story on Thursday.

The flyer features quotes that have appeared in national media from people outside the Minnesota congressional district who are giving to Melton-Meaux, Omar’s challenger in the Democratic primary on August 11. It also cites others.

Among those mentioned are billionaires Seth Klarman, a hedge fund executive, and Jonathan Gray, president of the Blackstone Group private equity firm. Those quoted include Stanley Weinstein, a retired real estate executive from Miami Beach, and someone named Michael of Scarsdale, New York.

Rabbi Avi Olitzky of St. Louis Park, a Minneapolis suburb, who has defended Omar against previous claims that she is antisemitic, told Vice News he was “beyond dismayed.”

“Most disappointing were the presence of tropes that we’d personally discussed as hurtful, as offensive, and that I received a commitment not only would it not happen again but education would take place to learn more as to why it’s a problem,” said Olitzky, who had met with Omar last year after she was criticized for a number of statements in which she imputed undue influence to pro-Israel groups. She apologized for some but not all of her remarks.

Omar is leading in the only known poll by double digits, but Melton-Meaux has outraised the incumbent: $3.2 million to less than $500,000 in the last quarter. The challenger, a lawyer, is drawing support from pro-Israel donors. Omar is one of two representatives in Congress who back the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement; the other is Rashida Tlaib.

Vice also quoted Jewish figures defending Omar.

“The campaign is just speaking truthfully and honestly about opposition to its agenda and the counter-movement against progressive change in this country,” Evan Stern, a local progressive activist, told Vice.

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