‘I do not believe she understood the full weight of the words…’
(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., defended the use of anti-Semitic slurs by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., saying the freshman congresswoman didn’t fully understand the impact of her words on the Jewish community.
“I feel confident that her words were not based on any anti-Semitic attitude,” Pelosi said at a press briefing on Thursday.
During her campaign, Jewish community leaders had specifically met with Omar to confront the Minnesota Democrat over her use of anti-Semitic rhetoric.
But Pelosi said Omar, a Muslim refugee from Somalia, may not have understood the offensiveness.
“She didn’t have a full appreciation of how they landed on other people where these words have a history and a cultural impact that might have been unknown to her.”
Omar has repeatedly used anti-Semitic stereotypes in political attacks, accusing pro-Israel lawmakers of having an “allegiance to a foreign country,” and suggesting Jewish leaders use money to influence Congress.
In November 2012, Omar tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”
In February, she wrote, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” in response to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., questioning her over accusations that Jewish lobbying organizations controlled Congress.
And at an event last week, she accused pro-Israeli lawmakers in the U.S. of maintaining a duel loyalty, later doubling down on the charge with a follow-up tweet.
After delaying and debating it for much of the week, the House on Thursday voted to pass a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and hate speech in all of its forms, but it did not name Omar or her comments directly.
“The fact is that’s how it was interpreted,” Pelosi said of Omar’s language. “We have to remove all doubt, as we have done over and over again. We’re working now on a resolution on the floor that will, again, speak out against anti-Semitism, anti-Islamophobia, anti-white supremacy and all the forms it takes, that our country has no place for this.”
When asked if Omar should apologize, Pelosi said it’s “up to her to explain.”
Pelosi then appeared, in an oblique and convoluted reference to her own experiences, to dismiss Omar’s bigotry as a reflection of youthful inexperience and naive enthusiasm.
“I do not believe she understood the full weight of the words,” Pelosi said. “When you’re a congressman—when you are an advocate out there, as I was—I appreciate all the enthusiasm that comes into Congress. I told you that before. That was me pushing a stroller and carrying those signs. I understand how advocates come in with their enthusiasms.”