(JTA) — Rep. Ilhan Omar defended her 2012 tweet in which she accused Israel of “evil doings” and said that Israel had “hypnotized the world.”
“Those unfortunate words were the only words I could think about expressing at that moment,” Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview aired Wednesday night.
The tweet, which said that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel,” came in reaction to Israel’s November 2012 operation against Hamas in Gaza.
“What is really important to me is that people recognize that there is a difference between criticizing a military action by a government that has exercised really oppressive policies and being offensive or attacking to particular people of faith,” said Omar, one of two Muslim women elected to Congress in November.
Amanpour asked Omar if Jewish Americans “should be worried” about her views because of her support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel or tweets such as the one from 2012. She prefaced the question by saying it is “generally a rite of passage” for U.S. politicians to “profess fealty or at least pay homage” to the pro-Israel organization AIPAC.
“In that tweet and in any other conversation I’ve had, I only talk about the State of Israel,” Omar said. “And I think it is really important for us to make sure that we are not associating the people with the country and its government.”
Prior to her election to Congress in November, Omar called BDS “counteractive” and said it prevents dialogue, but a week after her victory she told the Muslim Girl website that she “believes in and supports the BDS movement.”