Just hours after apologizing for making comments deemed anti-Semitic, Rep. Ilhan Omar retweeted a thread defending her claim that campaign contributions from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee buy support for the group’s positions.
Ms. Omar praised the writer, Ady Barkan, who told of being a staffer on a long-shot congressional campaign in 2006 when the candidate agreed to take stances on two issues in exchange for a maximum contribution from AIPAC.
“Your courage can’t be matched. I am often in tears thinking about how you won’t be with us in this fight and how I am going to miss your presence and courage. In solidarity my friend, in solidarity,” Ms. Omar wrote to Ady Barkan.
Under pressure from Democratic leaders, Ms. Omar earlier in the day apologized for suggesting over the weekend that support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins baby,” and specifically calling out AIPAC.
She said she had been educated by colleagues that such a claim was offensive and anti-Semitic, playing into a trope that Jewish money controlled politics.
But she said she remained convinced that AIPAC’s donations, like any other lobbying group’s, were poisonous to politics.
Mr. Barkan offered his story on Twitter Monday to back her up.
He claimed that in 2006, as part of a “long-shot Democratic Congressional race in deep red Ohio,” the candidate, whom he named only as “Vic” and described as a “hippie doctor … opposed to the Israeli occupation of Palestine,” took the maximum amount the law allowed for a political action committee to donate, likely $5,000 at a time when the campaign was desperate.
The Cincinnati AIPAC affiliate, Mr. Barkan said, told the candidate the Jewish group “would also like to see Vic take a public stance on two issues that, I thought, were relatively obscure: an Iran sanctions bill and something else I can’t recall, perhaps about continuing arms sales to Israel.”
He added that “we were desperate for cash and so we put online a statement about how Vic supported a two-state peace agreement and AIPAC’s two pet issues of the cycle. It was definitely about the Benjamins. Never would have done it otherwise,” deliberately using the same rap-phrase hit Ms. Omar had earlier used and which she supposedly apologized for earlier Monday as an anti-Semitic trope about the Jews secretly controlling politicians through their supposed control of banking and finance.
“But money is the lubricant that makes the whole machine run. @IlhanMN is right to point this out,” he wrote.
Corroborating Mr. Barkan’s account, a first-time candidate and doctor named Victoria Wells Wulsin won the 2006 Democratic primary in Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District, which hugs the Cincinnati suburbs and the Ohio River east of the city. She lost the general election by less than 3,000 votes.
Mr. Barkan in the same thread then went on to denounce House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who demanded Ms. Omar’s apology Monday.
“I am deeply disappointed in @SpeakerPelosi for her failure today. When AIPAC and its army try to silence criticism of the immoral, illegal, inhumane occupation by screaming about anti-semitism and claiming that nobody may ever talk about how the Israel lobby uses money to build power, don’t fall for their bull—t,” he wrote.