Senior Democrat Calls Out Freshman Omar Over Israel Comments

(Bloomberg) -- Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, asked freshman House Democrat Ilhan Omar to retract and apologize for comments questioning “the loyalty of fellow American citizens.”

“It’s unacceptable and deeply offensive to call into question the loyalty of fellow American citizens because of their political views, including support for the U.S.-Israel relationship,” Engel, a New York Democrat, said in a statement. “This episode is especially disappointing following so closely on another instance of Ms. Omar seeming to invoke an anti-Semitic stereotype.”

Senior Democrat Calls Out Freshman Omar Over Israel Comments

Speaking Wednesday night at a bookstore in Washington, the Minnesota representative said: “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,” the New York Times reported. Omar asked why it’s acceptable to criticize the political influence of the National Rifle Association, fossil fuel industries and “big pharma,” but not the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Omar, one of the few Muslims in Congress, last month apologized for tweets that were condemned by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats as anti-Semitic.

At the bookstore event, Omar had “reiterated the remorse she feels for her comments last month — and the pain she knows they caused,” Jeremy Slevin, a spokesman for Omar, told the Times. “As she said in her apology, we must distinguish between criticism of a particular faith and fair critiques of lobbying groups,” Slevin said.

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