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Hundreds of protesters rally against Rep. Ilhan Omar as she makes San Fernando Valley appearance

WOODLAND HILLS >> Hundreds of protesters have gathered outside a fundraising event in Woodland Hills, where Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar is set to speak Saturday night at the Council of American-Islamic Relations of Greater Los Angeles’ fourth annual Valley Banquet.
The freshman Democrat, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, drew scorn from many Jewish and Republican circles with a tweet in early February that said “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” in reference to the support U.S. lawmakers have traditionally offered to Israel.

Hundreds outside the Woodland Hills Hilton right now protesting Rep. Ilhan Omar’s appearance at a CAIR fundraiser tonight. Crowd’s going wild for a bride walking out of the hotel
— Ariella Plachta (@AriPlachta) March 23, 2019

The remark was criticized by some — including Omar’s Democratic colleagues in the House of Representatives — as anti-Semitic.
Omar later apologized, saying “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.” But Omar has stood by her criticism of the Israeli government.
“Being opposed to [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and the occupation is not the same as being anti-Semitic. I am grateful to the many Jewish allies who have spoken out and said the same,” Omar wrote on Twitter.

A mix of MAGA hats, Jewish community members and Evangelical pro-Israel types. Police guessing around 1,000 people. There are some weird conspiracy theories floating around… never been to a Trump rally but this is what I imagine it to be like
— Ariella Plachta (@AriPlachta) March 24, 2019

The protesters, critical of Omar’s words, lined a sidewalk area outside the Hilton hotel in Woodland Hills, waving Isreali flags in a heavy show of solidarity against the freshman congresswoman’s appearance at the Hilton. A handful of counterprotesters across the streets held up signs in support of Omar, even as one person wearing a MAGA hat yelled through a megaphone, “Look at those liberal losers.”

Handful of Omar supporters on the other side of the street. “Look at those liberal losers,” someone in a MAGA hat yelling at them through a megaphone
— Ariella Plachta (@AriPlachta) March 23, 2019

LAPD was well aware of the protest of the event, which had been planned in well in advance.
“Officers will be working it (the banquet). We don’t disclose the numbers,” Officer Sal Ramirez of the LAPD’s Media Relations Section told City News Service.
RELATED STORY: Rep. Ilhan Omar to speak at Woodland Hills banquet ’empowering Valley Muslims’
Saturday’s event — “Advancing Justice: Empowering Valley Muslims” — was scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Hilton. Jewish Voice for Peace will be awarded the “2019 Champion of Justice” accolade.
It’s one of two political events at Los Angeles Islamic centers Saturday. Earlier in the day, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, was scheduled to visit the Islamic Center of Southern California to discuss the recent mass shooting in New Zealand.
Sanders also held a campaign rally Saturday afternoon at Grand Park.
Staff Writer Ariella Plachta and City News Service contributed to this story.

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