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Omar apologizes for AIPAC tweet

The New York Times’ Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes: “Representative Ilhan Omar, who has been battling charges of anti-Semitism for weeks, apologized on Monday for insinuating that American support for Israel is fueled by money from a pro-Israel lobbying group — a comment that drew swift and unqualified condemnation from fellow Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi. … “Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,” Ms. Omar said in a statement released on Twitter.”

MPR’s Brandt Williams reports: “Two Minnesota legislators reintroduced a bill Monday aimed at limiting out-of-home placements for African-American children and keep families involved in child protection cases together as much as possible. The so-called Minnesota African-American Family Preservation Act would also establish greater oversight when black children are moved to foster families. … Data from the Minnesota Department of Human Services show that African-American children and children who identify with two or more races are more likely than whites to be placed out of their homes.”

In the Star Tribune, Tim Harlow writes, “The next storm arrives on Monday night into Tuesday when 4 to 6 inches of snow is expected to fall across the Twin Cities metro area with heftier amounts expected across the southeastern part of the state and into western Wisconsin where up to 10 inches of snow could pile up, the National Weather Service said. Right behind that is another system that on Thursday is set to sock parts of Minnesota with an undetermined amount of snow. … Another system is forecast to arrive late Saturday into Sunday and more precipitation is expected next week.”

The Pioneer Press’ Mara H. Gottfried and Frederick Melo write: “A man running for St. Paul City Council told police a fellow candidate assaulted him and he demanded they arrest her over the weekend, according to a police report. When an officer told Alexander Bourne he would not arrest Danielle Swift, Bourne “was extremely upset and stated, ‘Guess what, if I have anything to do with the city council, you’re not gonna get more officers,’” the report continued. … Bourne and Swift are among five who are running for the Ward 6 City Council seat in the fall. Dan Bostrom, who held the East Side seat for 20 years, stepped down at the end of 2018.

Also from MPR, this one from Tim Pugmire: “DFL Gov. Tim Walz and top legislative leaders from both parties pledged Monday to work cooperatively toward a smooth conclusion of the 2019 session in May. Walz joined DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman and Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka to announce a set of early deadlines for action on this year’s budget work. They want to avoid a potential state government shutdown and a repeat of the chaos seen at the close of recent sessions.”

Stribber Jean Hopfensperger says, “Pope Francis will convene a historic clergy sex abuse summit this month, and many Minnesota Catholics are watching to see if it tackles an issue close to home — what to do about reported misconduct by bishops. It’s an issue felt keenly in the Twin Cities, where the halted 2014 investigation into former Archbishop John Nienstedt is considered by many Catholics as a case study of all that can go wrong when the church has no clear, independent policies for investigating its top leaders.”

Also from the Strib. This from Libor Jany: “An employee of a Plymouth printer manufacturer allegedly stole more than $240,000 worth of printer ink to sell online before police caught up to him last month, putting an end to a bizarre scheme that stretched five years. When caught, the 41-year-old suspect, an employee of Primera Technology Inc., a Plymouth-based manufacturer of specialty printers, admitted to selling some of the ink cartridges at discount to unsuspecting buyers on Amazon and eBay, according to a search warrant affidavit.”

WCCO reports: The Minnesota Department of Transportation is reminding drivers to give snowplows extra room when road conditions are dicey. On Monday, the MnDOT posted on Twitter that more than 40 snowplows have been struck by motorists this winter. 

Comments (44)

  1. Submitted by Brian Simon on 02/12/2019 - 07:23 am.

    Can someone explain how Rep Omar’s tweet was anti semitic? AIPAC is a pro-Israel lobbying group that gives a lot of money to congresspeople. Is it no longer valid to point out that donors give mony to sway politician’s positions on issues?

    • Submitted by Rod Loper on 02/12/2019 - 08:05 am.

      Apparently not.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/12/2019 - 08:19 am.

      AIPAC does not give money directly.

      Her tweet was also inaccurate. Conservative support for Israel is driven by a belief that all Jewish people (including, I suppose, their “many Jewish friends”) should emigrate to Israel, rebuild the Temple, and bring about the Apocalypse.

      • Submitted by Debra Hoffman on 02/12/2019 - 11:40 am.

        AIPAC says it does not donate directly to politicians but there is a sub-group that encourages donations to congressional members:

        I agree that calling out a group for giving money to congress persons isn’t the same as being anti-Israel. As far as Israel and Palestine are concerned, this is a case where both sides have made mistakes and both sides should be held accountable for them.

      • Submitted by Tom Crain on 02/14/2019 - 10:31 am.

        Omar didn’t claim AIPAC gives $ directly. Don’t be naive. The group does not raise funds for political candidates itself, but its members raise money for candidates through political action committees AIPAC helped establish and by other means, in fact it advertises its “vast pool of donors”.

        Her comments were no more anti-semitic than supporters of AIPAC are islamophobic. The problem with AIPAC is it a de facto agent for a foreign government. Name me any other similar organization – with this much political clout – that advocates on behalf of another nation.

    • Submitted by Curtis Loschy on 02/12/2019 - 09:08 am.

      Seems we have gotten to the point that any comment against Israel is deemed anti-Semitic.

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/12/2019 - 10:11 am.

        No, but false statements and obvious bigotry are. Omar has acknowleged how offensive her comments were. Why are people sticking up for anti-semitism?

        • Submitted by Brian Simon on 02/12/2019 - 01:18 pm.

          I’m wondering what the offense was. I didn’t see an obvious anti-semitic statement, that criticized a people for their religios and/or ethnic heritage, based on stereotypes or caricatures. I did see criticism of political positions.

          So, what I’m trying to do is question my own perceptions of what is anti-semitic. Is there something there, or is it as another poster commented, that any criticism of israel is now an anti-semitic act?

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/12/2019 - 10:08 am.

      The problem is not criticizing AIPAC. Well, generally it isn’t. Omar is ignorant and doesn’t understand what AIPAC does and made a false claim. But the real problem is using lazy, anti-semetic stereotypes.

      I’m shocked that anyone didn’t recognize how offensive this was. The fact that people don’t realize this was a problem demomstates how the disease of anti-semitism has infected the left as well as the right. Its truly nauseating.

      • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 02/12/2019 - 11:11 am.

        I don’t wish to discuss Ms Ilan Omar. But do tell what does AIPAC do ? Or could i refresh your memory.

        “This is why AIPAC had no choice but to let Trump speak………The AIPAC members cheered because they have been conditioned to cheer. They have been conditioned to view American politicians solely through the prism of their Israel views. So thousands of Jews cheered for the country’s foremost purveyor of bigotry against religious minorities. Some journalists were surprised. They should not have been. The crowd had been taught well. Moral indifference to what happens inside the United States is the AIPAC way.”

        Are we still going to hear lectures on anti-semitism and bigotry ? Really.

        • Submitted by David Lundeen on 02/12/2019 - 12:01 pm.

          Deflecting refuse to acknowledge common the same tactic every Republican uses when confronted with an ugly reality. Yes we do need to discuss bigotry. As the first Somali representative I would think Miss Omar would be uniquely positioned to understand how damaging racism and bigotry can be. However, her hypocrisy is sickening. If she wants to make legitimate arguments AIPAC, that is one thing. I encourage her to ditch Twitter and have an honest interview regarding her feelings on Israel. Of course, the two-state solution is an important thing to discuss and have a reasonable and rational debate on. But to reduce this to the most disgusting trope about Jews says a lot about her incompetence, lack of intelligence, and her judgment. She’s a fraud.

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/12/2019 - 12:53 pm.

          I’m no fan of AIPAC. I brought it up because Omar’s tweets were not only bigoted but factually incorrect.

          And yes, whenever someone important says something bigoted, we need to bring it up. The fact some people think this is ok is disgusting.

          • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 02/12/2019 - 01:57 pm.

            “Omar is ignorant and doesn’t understand what AIPAC does and made a false claim. But the real problem is using lazy, anti-semetic stereotypes.”

            Are you willing to apply your “stereotype” argument to Beinarts point that AIPAC cheered for a bigot ?

      • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/13/2019 - 01:52 am.

        Would it be less “intellecutally lazy” to point out that we support Israel for the same reason we support Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, Dubai, Bahrain, and the UAE? As proxies to prevent the loss of control of Middle Eastern oil supplies? We sure don’t do it out of some altruistic sense of good will. Should those oil supplies go away, so would our support. I guess I fail to see how pointing out the obvious, despite the fact that, at its base level reasoning, it aligns with some long held tropes used to malign Jews, should be discouraged. If you can point me toward some other concrete rationale for our country’s unwavering support of Israel, no matter what actions they take on the world stage, I’m all ears.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/13/2019 - 09:59 am.

        As Peter Beinart wrote in the Forward, Rep. Omar was wrong, but she is also being judged by a double standard.

        • Submitted by David Lundeen on 02/13/2019 - 11:33 am.

          That does not excuse his bigotry. The best way to not be judged against a double-standard is not make those types of remarks. All it does is serve as fodder for Republicans to bring up identity and tribal politics in order to shift the conversation away from their putrid policies and record over the last two years.

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/13/2019 - 12:02 pm.

            “That does not excuse his bigotry.” I think you mean “her bigotry.”

            “The best way to not be judged against a double-standard is not make those types of remarks.” So we are going to shift the blame away from the hypocrites and other bigots who condemn her while not being held accountable for their own actions?

            • Submitted by David Lundeen on 02/13/2019 - 02:12 pm.

              Let the Republicans own their bigotry and prejudice. It didn’t work well for them in the 2018 elections. We lack moral authority to denounce racists like Rep. King if we are not willing to hold our own elected officials to the highest standards.

  2. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/12/2019 - 08:03 am.

    Omar crudely suggested we support Israel because of the money. It plays to anti-Semitic stereotypes.

    • Submitted by John Evans on 02/12/2019 - 11:28 am.

      Yeah, and that merited an apology.

    • Submitted by John Evans on 02/16/2019 - 07:41 pm.

      But to be fair, that’s not what she was suggesting. The thought is that congressional representatives support right-wing Israely Likud party policies because of the money that AIPAC will marshall against them. And, to be fair, it’s partially true. No, it isn’t ‘all’ about the benjamins, but that’s a big part of it.

  3. Submitted by David Lundeen on 02/12/2019 - 11:02 am.

    Anti-semitism is the worst form of prejudice. Its roots in eugenics, anti-intellectualism, conspiracy and racism are abhorrent. I’ve been a Democrat all my life, but I can’t stand representative Omar. For the same reason I don’t like Christian right-wing candidates, I can’t stand Ilhan Omar. On the campaign trail she never faced an honest question about how her religion would influence her decisions and beliefs. Her anti-semitism is overwhelmingly clear, and she has no qualifications for Congress. She’s made unprovoked mistake twice and needs to resign immediately. Her incompetence reflects poorly on the state of Minnesota, and I doubt whether she has any capacity for self-reflection, curiosity, intellect or compassion.

    • Submitted by John Evans on 02/12/2019 - 11:34 am.

      The worst? Jews were not the only victims of genocide in history. The results have been catastrophic, but we really don’t need to have an argument over whose victimization has been the worst.

      • Submitted by David Lundeen on 02/12/2019 - 11:47 am.

        It is the worst. Indeed, we don’t need an argument since the matter is already settled. The same prejudice that led to a genocide still pervades many people’s beliefs today. Ms. Omar is certainly an example, as well as Evangelical Christian figures like Falwell, Graham and a host of others who pump anti-Semitic innuendos, yet encourage the worst elements of Jewish zealotry. To be sure, my initial complaint was that Miss Omar never had to answer any honest and thought-provoking question about her religion. This is especially important because anti-semitism has a broad base of support within Islam.

        • Submitted by Brian Simon on 02/12/2019 - 01:29 pm.

          “my initial complaint was that Miss Omar never had to answer any honest and thought-provoking question about her religion. This is especially important because anti-semitism has a broad base of support within Islam.”

          Does this standard apply to all candidates for office? Because it sure seems like a lot of self-professed christians in office have some deep-seated anti-muslim sentiments that run pretty deep too. Surely you’re not suggesting that only people of a certain faith should answer honest and thought-provoking questions about how their religious beliefs might affect their ability to upholf their oath to the vonstitution.

          • Submitted by David Lundeen on 02/12/2019 - 02:33 pm.

            It should definitely apply for all candidates of all religious backgrounds. Our country was founded as a secular nation after all. Religion, in all its forms, is innately irrational, and prizes faith over reason. I bring this point up because Islam and Right-Wing Christianity are the most dangerous forms of religious fanaticism that pose great threats to our democracy.

            Should any candidate say their religion does and will influence their thoughts on public policy, that should be seen as a great threat. Look our 43rd President and how easily he was tricked by Vladimir Putin wearing a cross during the first meeting. He never wore that cross again. Religion is innately irrational, and to follow it is akin to living in a celestial version of North Korea.

  4. Submitted by Paul John Martin on 02/12/2019 - 11:11 am.

    I don’t think anyone has to remind Ms. Omar how persecution feels.

  5. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 02/12/2019 - 11:51 am.

    Ms Omar was elected on the principle that:

    “it sure would be neat to have the first female, Somali, Muslim immigrant ever elected to congress to come from the MN 5 CD.”

    As opposed to:

    “it sure would be neat to have the most competent candidate from the MN 5 CD.”

    Which would have been Margaret Kelleher.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/13/2019 - 10:20 am.

      “Which would have been Margaret Kelleher.”

      The only white person in the race, apart from the marginal Frank Drake.

  6. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/13/2019 - 10:06 am.

    Quite the conversation, interesting but not unexpected.
    (From AIPAC Web site)

    American Pro-Israel Lobby
    “AIPAC empowers pro-Israel activists across all ages, religions, races and political parties to be politically engaged and build relationships with members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to promote the U.S.-Israel relationship.”
    “Make a minimum financial commitment of $2,500 a year, or $5,000 per two-year election cycle, to pro-Israel politics”

    It would seem a fair piece of her statement was/maybe apropos, They focus on a pro-Israel America relationship.Suspect they also have a budget, and things don’t happen without some type of expense. Now some folks need to answer the question, are we all automatically required to align with everything Israel says, does etc.or, if we disagree does that automatically make one anti-Semitic or anti Jewish?

    Would we see the same type discussion if someone made similar comment’s say about a pro-Iranian group? Appears we have a president that does it quite often. .

    • Submitted by David Lundeen on 02/13/2019 - 10:25 am.

      There was nothing appropriate. If she has legitimate concerns about AIPAC she should address them in an informed manner. Relying on tropes against Jews suggests a lack of foresight, judgement, and knowledge about the issue. I don’t care for AIPAC myself, but there are much better ways to address this. That she has made this unprovoked error twice is remarkable. I don’t believe the sincerity of her apology. That brings me to my first point, she never faced any critical questions during the campaign on how her faith would inform her decisions and beliefs. She is a fanatic and makes the Democratic party look bad.

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/13/2019 - 11:32 am.

        Guess we all get our opinion/position. Seems OK for our President to line up against a Muslim religion, no apology required, The message is, it appears from this perspective that the democrats play on a field that is 10’feet wide before you are out of bounds, but the right plays on a field that is 30 yards wide before you are out of bounds. Maybe its that PC thing? From this perspective End of the day, AIPAC is a lobbying group, lobbing groups spend money, especially in elections to influence votes. Be they NRA or Planned Parenthood. Does AIPAC spend money on elections to influence votes. The answer appears to be a clear yes they do. How does that conflict with her statement? That of course does not suggest she could have been a bit more PC about how she laid it out there. On 1 other point, good bad or otherwise, she was elected using the rules laid out by the DFL and our election system. If she didn’t get the faith questions, so what, should Muslims have a different bar than Christians or Jews?

        • Submitted by David Lundeen on 02/13/2019 - 12:32 pm.

          No, they should have the exact same bar. As a secular nation, any candidate of faith should have to answer openly about how their faith would influence their decision process. My preference for this is that religion is innately irrational, and I don’t want that irrationality affecting their sworn oaths to the Constitution.

          • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/13/2019 - 04:37 pm.

            So, full circle, was Margaret Kelleher.quizzed about her faith and “on how her faith would inform her decisions and beliefs”? Fair enough?

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/13/2019 - 04:53 pm.

            It’s easier to try to make the case for that bar when we’re talking about a member of a minority religion. The requisite “of course, it should apply to everyone” does not alter the fact that the bar was brought up in the context of a Muslim elected official.

            I won’t believe the question you propose is neutral until it is raised in the context of two candidates of the same or similar faith.

            • Submitted by David Lundeen on 02/14/2019 - 10:42 am.

              Play the world’s smallest violin. I don’t hold that standard just for minority members. I don’t want some radical Christian representing me as well. I can’t be any more clear, all religion is innately irrational and I don’t trust any religious representative to fully uphold the Constitution. Our acting attorney general endangers is in this way by claiming all legal cases should be examined though a Christian lens first. I shouldn’t have explain how anti-democratic this belief is.

              • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/16/2019 - 08:57 am.

                DL, the bias from this perspective is implied/revealed/observed in the discussion.

                • Submitted by David Lundeen on 02/16/2019 - 04:14 pm.

                  I’m glad you finally picked that up. I am extremely biased against any person of faith who occupies the public sector, and it’s time this country stops affording any sort of respect or credibility to anyone when they declare themselves a person of faith.

  7. Submitted by Charles Holtman on 02/13/2019 - 06:17 pm.

    In two tweets, what Rep. Omar stated was that Rep. Kevin McCarthy, leader of the House Republican Caucus, is vigilant to attack those who criticize Israel’s geopolitics because he receives money from AIPAC. Apparently AIPAC does not sign checks to congresspersons, and so as a literal matter, this is inaccurate. Slightly less literally, it assuredly is true, as AIPAC is recognized for its effectiveness in mobilizing donors to contribute to members of Congress, or to their opponents, in order to advance Israeli geopolitical goals.

    More broadly, as Mr. Haas notes above, to the establishment, Republican and Democratic alike, Israel is important above all for its strategic role in the ability of a limited number of powerful persons, clans and corporations to extract rents from Mideast petroleum and the attendant public spending to deploy a vast global security apparatus. If that’s not Benjamins, I don’t know what is. There is no anti-Semitic “trope” here. There is only the mundane observation that Rep. McCarthy’s support for Israeli geopolitics is not grounded in a vision of right moral action. (And, of course, the failure to note that for many in Rep. McCarthy’s party, support of Israeli geopolitics is not about money, but about hastening the circumstances that will lift them to Heaven and bring God’s wrath down upon the non-believers which, it might be impolite to note, includes the Jews.)

    Rep. Omar’s sin was simply the neophyte’s failure to tread carefully near the notable third rail of Israeli geopolitics. She and her young colleagues would do well to set Twitter aside as to matters of public policy, particularly fraught ones, and present their views in sentences and paragraphs.

    The Right is at the ready to pounce on anything from Democrats, and particularly Muslim Democrats, that is critical of Israeli geopolitics. It is a Two-Fer: It creates conflict between establishment and younger Democrats, and it allows the Republican party to both-sides the anti-Semitism that it indulges (to put it gently) within its own base. It is trolling beyond compare for Republicans to purport umbrage at Rep. Omar’s supposed anti-Semitic trope, when the party stews its base in the dark fantasy that every traitorous action of the left is funded by a shadowy Jewish Hungarian (vampire!) billionaire. But Democrats will fall for it every time.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/14/2019 - 09:14 am.

      Rep. McCarthy has also been guilty of sending out an a tweet with clear anti-Semitic imagery. He deleted it later, and has said no more about it.

  8. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/15/2019 - 10:50 am.

    Unless someone can deny that AIPAC is a powerful lobby I can’t see how Omar’s tweet is this controversial. We can split hairs about how AIPAC does it in terms of funding, but we can’t deny the fact that AIPAC influences US policy.

    It might helpful to understand the context of this tweet exchange. Omar had re-tweeted a comment by Glenn Greenwald observing the fact that one of if not the first bill the Senate passed this year is a bill that grants States the authority to enact anti-BDS statutes. More than half the States in the US have enacted various anti-BDS statutes that are blatantly unconstitutional. What was that? Did I hear you ask: “What’s BDS?” My point exactly. How many Americans even know what this is about and why is it a legislative priority for the US Congress and over 25 States?

    BDS stands for: Boycott, Divest, and Sanction. These are initiatives being adopted by critics of Israel’s Palestinian policies regarding what many people of conscience consider to be oppressive and unlawful tactics. Now we can argue about whether or not Israeli policy is lawful and oppressive, but in the US we’re supposed to be able to have THAT argument… it’s called: “free speech” and the SCOTUS has ruled that boycott’s are protected speech.

    So how is it does anyone suppose that State and Federal legislators all over the country are making anti-BDS a priority? Do you suppose this is just some kind of spontaneous concern that pops up because there’s nothing much else going on? Or do you suppose it has something to do with pro-Israeli lobbying?

    Do we have sensible gun restriction laws pending in half the State Capitals? Do we have legalizing Marijuana bills pending in half the State’s Capitals? Do we have living wage laws pending in half the State Capitals? That would be, no, no, and no, but we have anti-BDS legislation PASSED in half the States Capitals. There is simply no denying that AIPAC is a powerful lobby.

    Anyone who understands our government knows that lobbyist control and shape legislative agendas, that’s not an ani-Semitic trope, it’s a political fact. And everyone knows that lobbying costs money, and that lobbyists spend money. Anyone who pays attention knows that AIPAC is the primary Israeli lobby in the US. THIS is what Omar and Greenwald were tweeting about.

    I can understand why Jews are sensitive to conspiracy theories based on centuries old stereotypes, and I share those concerns. The rise of Anti-Semitism since Trump got elected is alarming. but I worry that this reaction looks more like silencing than sensitivity.

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