TEL AVIV – Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) on Tuesday claimed she “unknowingly” used an anti-Semitic trope when she accused Israel of “hypnotizing the world,” but added that this didn’t mean she would stop criticizing the Jewish state anytime soon.
Her remarks were made in response to a New York Times op-ed by Bari Weiss that called Omar out for a 2012 tweet, posted in reaction to an Israeli operation against Hamas, that accused Israel of “hypnotizing the world” to carry out “evil.”
Omar said she was not aware of the “ugly sentiment” underlying the remark.
“In all sincerity, it was after my CNN interview that I heard from Jewish orgs. that my use of the word ‘Hypnotize’ and the ugly sentiment it holds was offensive,” she said in a Twitter thread.
That statement came in the context of the Gaza War.
It’s now apparent to me that I spent lots of energy putting my 2012 tweet in context and little energy is disavowing the anti-semitic trope I unknowingly used, which is unfortunate and offensive.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 22, 2019
“It’s now apparent to me that I spent lots of energy putting my 2012 tweet in context and little energy in disavowing the anti-Semitic trope I unknowingly used, which is unfortunate and offensive,” she added.
Earlier this month, Omar defended her tweet to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview, saying, “Those unfortunate words were the only words I could think about expressing at that moment.”
Tuesday’s tweet thread continued with Omar, a vehement supporter of the BDS movement, saying that she would continue to take Israel to task over its actions.
“With that said, it is important to distinguish between criticizing a military action by a government and attacking a particular people of faith. I will not shy away of criticism of any government when I see injustice — whether it be Saudi Arabia, Somalia, even our own government!” she wrote.
Last week, Republicans slammed Omar’s appointment to the committee, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California calling it “disgraceful” to appoint “a member who has a documented history of making anti-Semitic and anti-Israel remarks.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York, one of two Jewish Republicans in the House of Representatives and also a member of the committee, last week tweeted: “Instead of the Dems supporting Israel & combatting BDS & anti-Semitism on college campuses & elsewhere, they’re now empowering it.”
As Farrakhan, etc spew anti-Israel, anti-Semitic hate, many Reps. have embraced/echoed them. Last week, the House voted to reject White Supremacy. We should also pass my new Reso rejecting anti-Israel, anti-Semitic hate infiltrating US politics & Congress:
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) January 23, 2019
The Jewish Democratic Council of America also expressed concern about Omar’s appointment.
“The Jewish Democratic Council of America has clearly and repeatedly stated its concerns with the views of Representative Ilhan Omar as it relates to Israel,” JDCA said. “We have also expressed strong support for bipartisanship when it comes to Israel, and we are confident that bipartisan support of the US-Israel relationship will continue in the 116th Congress under Democratic leadership. In this regard, we welcome the recent appointment of pro-Israel stalwarts Rep. Eliot Engel, Rep. Nita Lowey, and Rep. Ted Deutch as the chairs of the relevant committees and subcommittees in the House.”