Freshman representative Ilhan Omar has come under fire for a tweet which many are calling “anti-semitic.” On Sunday night, Omar replied to a tweet from the journalist Glenn Greenwald. Greenwald wrote, “Equating [Omar and Tlaib’s] criticism of Israel to Steve King’s long defense of white supremacy is obscene (McCarthy said it’s worse). In the US, we’re allowed to criticize our own government: certainly foreign governments. The GOP House Leader’s priorities are warped.” Omar added, “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby,” an apparent reference to the 1997 Puff Daddy song. When Omar was asked to clarify, Omar said that she’d been talking about AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying group.
Omar has been widely condemned for her tweet. House GOP conference chair Liz Cheney called on Democrats to “immediately remove” Omar from the House Foreign Affairs committee. Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said that statements like Omar’s “CANNOT be tolerated.” Former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton also got involved, tweeting, “We should expect all elected officials, regardless of party, and all public figures to not traffic in anti-Semitism.”
In New York, one Democratic congressman sharply criticized Omar’s comments, tweeting, Congresswoman Omar’s statements are deeply hurtful to Jews, including myself. Max Rose is, like Ilhan Omar, a freshman member of Congress and a Democrat. Here’s what you need to know about Max Rose:
1. He Said Leaders Shouldn’t be ‘Invoking Hurtful Stereotypes & Caricatures of Jewish People’
Max Rose issued a statement condemning Ilhann Omar’s tweet about AIPAC on Sunday night. Rose, himself a freshman Democrat, said that as a Jew he felt hurt by Omar’s words. His statement implied that Omar had been playing on hurtful stereotypes and caricatures of Jewish people, by suggesting that American support for Israel is connected to Jewish money. In his full statement, Rose wrote, “At a time when anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise, our leaders should not be invoking hurtful stereotypes and caricatures of Jewish people to dismiss those who support Israel.”
Rose also stressed that the Democratic party should value diversity as a strength. He wrote, “In the Democratic party — and the United States of America — we celebrate the diversity of our people and the Gods we pray to as a strength. the Congresswoman’s statements do not live up to that cherished ideal.”
Rose is Jewish and has told Jewish Week that he still attends synagogue, although not regularly, and that he plans to raise his children Jewish.
2. Rose Represents One of the Most Conservative Congressional Districts in NYC
Rose represents New York’s 11th congressional district. Until Rose’s election, the 11th congressional district was the only one in New York City represented by a Republican, Dan Donovan. The district includes Staten Island and parts of southern Brooklyn. It was one of the few Congressional districts in New York to vote for Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
The New York Times has described the 11th district as “more white and suburban than the rest of New York City, and far more conservative.” Dan Donovan, the Republican who was unseated by Max Rose, was a strong supporter of Trump’s travel ban and stressed his ties to the president during his re-election campaign.
3. Rose Is a Combat Veteran Who Served in Afghanistan
Rose, 31, is a former Army captain who became a platoon leader in El Paso, Texas after attending offer training school. The army sent him to Afghanistan in 2012, where he led a small combat outpost with American and Afghan National Army soldiers. Rose later told the New York Times that he valued his time in the army for giving him the kind of experience he couldn’t have found elsewhere.
“That’s the thing about the military,” he told the Times. “They give very young people experiences and levels of empowerment that you could never find anywhere else. It’s astounding.” While in Afghanistan, he earned a purple heart and a bronze star, after being injured by an IED.
4. He & His Wife Leigh Live in Staten Island
Max Rose married Leigh Byrne, a fashion stylist, in March 2018. The couple lives in St George, Staten Island. Rose told the Jewish Week that he attends synagoge in Staten Island, although not regularly. He added that he plans to raise his children Jewish.
5. He Holds a Degree from the London School of Economics & Studied at Oxford
Rose grew up in Brooklyn, the son of a proofessor of social work. He earned a history degree from Weslyan University before joining the US Army and doing a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Rose also earned an MSci from the London School of Economics and studied at Oxford University.