Ilhan Omar Tweets That U.S. Politicians' Support for Israel Is 'All About the Benjamins'

Democratic congresswoman's words suggesting money is behind pro-Israel stances were widely criticized: 'We should expect all public figures to not traffic in anti-Semitism'

File photo: Representative Ilhan Omar ahead of President Trump's State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, February 5, 2019.
Mandel Ngan/AFP

>> UPDATES: Ilhan Omar criticized by fellow Democratic lawmakers: 'No place for anti-Semitism' ■ Ilhan Omar apologizes for 'anti-Semitic' tweet following backlash

WASHINGTON – A new controversy involving Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar and Israel erupted on Sunday when the Minnesota congresswoman tweeted that support for Israel in the United States was “all about the Benjamins,” referring to Benjamin Franklin, whose image appears on $100 bills.

Omar’s tweet was criticized by Forward journalist Batya Ungar-Sargon, who wrote: “Would love to know who @IlhanMN thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel, though I think I can guess. Bad form, Congresswoman. That's the second anti-Semitic trope you've tweeted.”

>> Read more: Thanks to Ilhan Omar, U.S. Jews just got their Jeremy Corbyn moment ■ Republicans spoke up against Steve King. Shouldn’t Democrats speak up against Ilhan Omar?

Haaretz Weekly Episode 15Haaretz

In reply, Omar wrote: “AIPAC!” The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is the most influential U.S. lobby group supporting the Israeli government.

AIPAC responded to the controversy with a short statement: “We are proud that we are engaged in the democratic process to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship. Our bipartisan efforts are reflective of American values and interests. We will not be deterred in any way by ill-informed and illegitimate attacks on this important work.”

Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton, whose husband is Jewish, tweeted: "We should expect all elected officials, regardless of party, and all public figures to not traffic in anti-Semitism."

Max Rose, a freshman member of Congress from New York and a Jewish combat veteran, was one of the first Democratic politicians to denounce Omar. "Implying that Americans support Israel because of money alone is offensive," he wrote.