A petition launched by a prominent Trump supporter to see Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar ousted from the House Foreign Affairs Committee over “anti-Semitic” tweets has gained more than 37,500 signatures since it was launched on Monday.
The Change.org petition was started by outspoken Trump supporter Jacob Wohl, who has been described as a “far-right conspiracy theorist” and was recently at the center of an apparent plot to smear special counsel Robert Mueller. The 21-year-old, who describes himself as a “political and corporate intel consultant” on Twitter has also previously had his capital investment business banned by the self-regulatory National Futures Association over client complaints of mismanagement.
In a statement on the petition’s webpage, Wohl, accuses Omar of having a “proclivity towards making anti-Semitic remarks, while refusing to condemn terror groups like Hezbollah and Hamas.” The far-right Trump supporter also appears to make unfounded claims, accusing Omar of aiming an “anti-Semitic trope” at Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.
“Enough is enough! It’s time for Rep. Ilhan Omar to be removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” he says.
The petition, which is close to reaching its goal of 50,000 signatures, was launched as Omar apologized for tweets implying that U.S. lawmakers only support Israel because of lobby money.
Omar had made the suggestion in a response to a tweet from journalist Glenn Greenwald on Sunday, after Greenwald questioned GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy’s threats of punishment for congressmembers, including Omar, over their criticisms of Israel.
“It’s stunning how much time U.S. political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans,” Greenwald said.
Responding to the journalist’s tweet, Omar responded with: “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.”
After being challenged by another journalist on where exactly she believed money was coming from, Omar tweeted: “AIPAC!” This was a reference to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a special interest group that spends millions of dollars each year lobbying lawmakers and promoting pro-Israel policies.
AIPAC itself got involved in the exchange, responding to Omar’s tweet with its own asserting that the group is “proud that we are engaged in the democratic process to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship.”
“Our bipartisan efforts are reflective of American values and interests,” AIPAC’s tweet said, adding: “We will not be deterred in any way by ill-informed and illegitimate attacks on this important work.”
Omar, who became one of the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress in November, faced swift condemnation following the tweets, including backlash from members of her own party.
On Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement along with other Democratic leaders condemning the tweets and calling on Omar to “immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.”
“Legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share,” the statement said. “But Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive.”
Since then, Omar has released a statement “unequivocally” apologizing for the tweets, but asserting that she still believes that lobbying in U.S. politics is “problematic, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry.”
“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,” she said. “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.”
While Omar has faced widespread backlash for her remarks, Wohl’s petition makes the unfounded claim that Omar “invoked ‘Benjamin’s Baby’ as an anti-Semitic trope aimed at Jared Kushner.”
Omar’s use of “Benjamins” appeared to be a reference to Benjamin Franklin, who is pictured on the $100 bill. The phrase “it’s all about the Benjamins baby” was popularized by a 1997 single by Puff Daddy featuring Lil’ Kim, The Lox and The Notorious B.I.G., taken from the hit album “No Way Out”.