On Sunday, freshman congresswoman Ilhan Omar shared her belief on Twitter that AIPAC, one of the most powerful pro-Israel lobbying groups in the United States, is responsible for incentivizing American politicians to be pro-Israel. As a result, the Somali Muslim Minnesotan has been the target of a smear campaign alleging she is anti-Semitic.

On Sunday, journalist and co-founder of the Intercept, Glenn Greenwald tweeted, “GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens punishment for and over their criticisms of Israel. It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans.”

Ilhan Omar retweeted Greenwald’s statement with the caption, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.” Omar’s tweet rightly indicated that American politicians were incentivized by financial pressure to become pro-Israel.



The Washington Post reports House Democratic leadership condemned Omar’s tweets, saying she utilized “use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters,” they pressured her to rescind the statements. Omar later “unequivocally” apologized in a statement posted on Twitter, saying, “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… At the same time, I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry.”

Despite not saying any anti-Semitic statements, Omar became the target of a rapid media smear campaign with many anti-Black and anti-Muslim tropes. Omar’s statement also broke a cardinal rule of American political life that both Democrats and Republicans adhere to, which is criticizing the state of Israel and its influence in American politics.

Mehdi Hasan writes in the Intercept about America’s long history of the close-knit relationships between administrations, pro-Israel lobbying groups, and Israel politicians. Hasan writes, “It’s ‘offensive and wrong’ to suggest the pro-Israel lobby tries to buy off politicians. But it’s totally fine to suggest the pro-gun lobby does… Morris Amitay, former AIPAC executive director, once admitted. “If you’re a weak candidate to begin with,” he continued, and your record is “anti-Israel and you have a credible opponent, your opponent will be helped.”

In the U.S., criticism of Israel and its oppression of the Palestinians is being equated with is increasingly being policed and criminalized.