Responding to Rep. Omar, Netanyahu says: 'From this Benjamin, it's not about the Benjamins!'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hit back Tuesday against comments from Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who had suggested that the reason Israel is solidly supported by the U.S. government is because of money.

"From this Benjamin, it's not about the Benjamins!" Netanyahu told the AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C., speaking by satellite hook up from Israel.

"The reason Americans love Israel," he added, "is not because they want our money, it's because they share our values. It's because America and Israel share a love of freedom and democracy."

Netanyahu's remarks were in response to a February tweet by Omar, who is Muslim, that American support for Israel was "all about the Benjamins baby." Weeks later, she also said pro-Israel activists pushed for "allegiance to a foreign country."

Both comments triggered accusations from some lawmakers and prominent Jewish groups of anti-Semitism and playing on toxic anti-Jewish stereotypes.

17 PHOTOS
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
See Gallery
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
President Donald Trump welcomes visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House in Washington, Monday, March 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, greet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, March 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump hold up the signed proclamation recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights as Netanyahu leaves the White House in Washington, Monday, March 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
President Donald Trump and visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walk along the Colonnade of the White House in Washington, Monday, March 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shake hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during their visit at Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem, Thursday March 21, 2019. (Jim Young/Pool Image via AP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office Sunday, March 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, Pool)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on January 22, 2017. / AFP / POOL / RONEN ZVULUN (Photo credit should read RONEN ZVULUN/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 21: (L to R) Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to U.S. President Barack Obama during a bilateral meeting at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel, September 21, 2016 in New York City. Last week, Israel and the United States agreed to a $38 billion, 10-year aid package for Israel. Obama is expected to discuss the need for a 'two-state solution' for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Pool Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 22: Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters, September 22, 2016 in New York City. According to the UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, the most pressing matter to be discussed at the General Assembly is the world's refugee crisis. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 18: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference on November 18, 2014 in Jerusalem, Israel. Netanyahu said incitement by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Islamic Jihad led to a terrorist attack in a Jerusalem synagogue, which killed four worshippers and wounded several others. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - JUNE 02: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) speaks with Military Secretary Eyal Zamir during the weekly cabinet meeting in his office on June 2, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Photo by Sebastian Scheiner - Pool/Getty Images)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the press in the southern Israeli port of Eilat, on March 10, 2014, as Israel displayed advanced rockets type M-302 capable of reaching distances of up to 200 km that were unloaded from the Panamanian-flagged Klos-C vessel on March 9, 2014 in the southern Israeli port of Eilat. The vessel, which was allegedly transporting arms from Iran to Gaza, was escorted into the port of Eilat after Israeli naval commandos seized it on March 5, 2014. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - JANUARY 22: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touches the Western Wall, Judaism holiest site, on January 22, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel. The latest opinion polls suggest that current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will return to office, albeit with a reduced majority. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - JANUARY 22: (ISRAEL OUT) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu casts his ballot at a polling station on election day on January 22, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel. Israel's general election voting has begun today as polls show Netanyahu is expected to return to office with a narrow majority. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
SDE BOKER, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 20: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Shimon Peres attend the annual memorial ceremony for David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first Prime Minister, in Sde Boker on November 20, 2012 in southern Israel. Hamas militants and Israel are continuing talks aimed at a ceasefire as the death toll in Gaza reaches over 100 with three Israelis also having been killed by rockets fired by Palestinian militants. (Photo by Dan Balilty - Pool /Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 23: Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, delivers an address to the 66th General Assembly Session at the United Nations on September 23, 2011 in New York City. The annual event, which is being dominated this year by the Palestinian's bid for full membership, gathers more than 100 heads of state and government for high level meetings on nuclear safety, regional conflicts, health and nutrition and environment issues. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - APRIL 10: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his offices on April 10, 2011 in Jerusalem, Israel. Both Israel and Hamas have expressed a willingness to call a truce to cross-border violence that in the past few days has claimed at least 19 Palestinian lives in retaliatory Israeli air strikes. (Photo by Jim Hollander - Pool/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

In response, the House of Representatives approved a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred though the measure did not single her out.

Omar has apologized for suggesting that the United States' connection to Israel is driven by money from AIPAC.

Moments after Netanyahu's remarks — who had been scheduled to speak to the conference in person but returned to Israel early after rockets were launched from Gaza — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also addressed Omar's comments, saying that "for many years, such slurs and tropes were limited to the fringes."

"Sadly, they've recently received new prominence, having been repeated and retweeted by a sitting member of Congress," he said, not mentioning Omar by name. "My friends, your advocacy is not a conspiracy. Your passion is nothing to apologize for. It is the essence of our democracy."

Speaker after speaker at the three-day AIPAC conference referenced Omar to the audience of 18,000 who packed the Washington Convention Center, watching the proceedings from a dozen giant screens flanking the sage.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, addressing the group on Tuesday, touted the anti-hate resolution she recently shepherded through Congress in response to the Omar controversy and condemned the "myth of dual loyalty" and the BDS movement (boycott, divestment, sanctions) as "bigotry masquerading as policy."

"I simply declare to be anti-Semitic is to be anti-American. It has no place in our country," Pelosi said to applause.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.