Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN-04) called the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) a “hate group” in a Wednesday statement after the lobbying firm ran negative ads about her on Facebook.
The Facebook advertisements called McCollum and Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-13) “radicals” who pose a threat “maybe more sinister” than ISIS and other terrorist organizations.
AIPAC removed the ads and said it regretted the “imprecise wording” that “offended many who are deeply committed to this cause.”
“We offer our unequivocal apology to the overwhelming majority of Democrats in Congress who are rightfully offended by the inaccurate assertion that the poorly worded, inflammatory advertisement implied,” the statement continued.
— AIPAC (@AIPAC) February 8, 2020
McCollum, however, rejected AIPAC’s “non-apology,” saying it was “just another attack.”
— Rep. Betty McCollum (@BettyMcCollum04) February 12, 2020
“Hate is used as a weapon to incite and silence dissent. Unfortunately, this is my recent experience with AIPAC,” the Minnesota congresswoman said in a statement released Wednesday.
She went on to state that AIPAC’s “use of hate speech actually makes it a hate group.”
“This is not a call to action, it is incitement,” she said. “AIPAC’s language is intended to demonize, not elevate a policy debate. Vile attacks such as this may be commonplace in the Trump era, but they should never be normalized. Hate speech is intentionally destructive and dehumanizing, which is why it is used as a weapon by groups with a stake in profiting from oppression.”
McCollum concluded her lengthy statement by accusing AIPAC of “taunting Democrats and mocking our core values.”
“I hope Democrats understand what is at stake and take a stand because working to advance peace, human rights, and justice is not sinister – it is righteous,” she said.
McCollum was included in the advertisement because she is the lead sponsor of a bill that would link Israel’s foreign aid from the U.S. with its treatment of juvenile Palestinian detainees.
“AIPAC wants its followers to believe that my bill to protect Palestinian children from being interrogated, abused, and even tortured in Israeli military prisons is a threat more sinister than ISIS. This is not empty political rhetoric. It is hate speech,” McCollum said.
Tlaib praised McCollum for “her courage” in a statement posted to Twitter Wednesday.
“Speak the truth even if your voice shakes. I doubt our fearless colleague Betty McCollum’s voice is shaking, but I know she comes from a place that believes hate that incites violence doesn’t belong anywhere,” said Tlaib.
Speak the truth even if your voice shakes.
I doubt our fearless colleague @BettyMcCollum04's voice is shaking, but I know she comes from a place that believes hate that incites violence doesn't belong anywhere. I commend her courage. https://t.co/uMV9cux3qg
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) February 12, 2020
Omar was accused of anti-Semitism early last year when she suggested that AIPAC buys support in Congress, saying “it’s all about the Benjamins baby.”
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