Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarDems wish civil rights icon John Lewis happy birthday: 'We are stronger because of you' Why Omar’s views are dangerous Omar apologizes to Jewish groups over tweet condemned as anti-Semitic: reports MORE (D-Minn.), the first Somali-American elected to Congress, on Thursday defended several tweets she sent in previous years, including one where she said she hopes people will see the "evil doings of Israel."

"I don't know how my comments would be offensive to Jewish Americans," Omar responded when asked on CNN about a Twitter post from 2012 that was sent during the eight-day conflict between Israeli forces and Palestinians in the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip.


"My comments precisely are addressing what was happening during the Gaza war, and I am clearly speaking about the way the Israeli regime was conducting itself in that war," she added.

Omar and Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibDem lawmaker inspires social media users to share selfies in their glasses Tlaib condemns bar crawl event in Detroit as 'racist bulls---' Furor over Omar puts spotlight on AIPAC MORE (D-Mich.) are the first two Muslim women elected to serve in Congress.

The two lawmakers are vocal critics of the Israeli government and have expressed support for the "boycott, divest and sanctions" movement, commonly referred to as BDS, which encourages companies and governments to avoid doing business with the Israeli government until treatment of Palestinians in the region improves.

Omar called her election to the House last year to replace outgoing Rep. Keith EllisonKeith Maurice EllisonOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Top Dems call for end to Medicaid work rules | Chamber launching ad blitz against Trump drug plan | Google offers help to dispose of opioids Ilhan Omar defends 2012 tweet: 'I don't know how my comments would be offensive to Jewish Americans' States scramble to fill void left by federal shutdown MORE (D-Minn.) a rejection of "religious bigotry" in the U.S.

“In a time where there is a lot of religious bigotry, it’s almost perfect to have this counterbalance. My sister Rashida and I are from the heartland of America,” Omar said at the time. “To be elected to Congress is a real rejection of that message."