Rep. Omar apologizes for tweet about Israel

Rep. Omar apologizes for tweet about Israel
© Stefani Reynolds

Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarHillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Hillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data House Democrats question DHS over using facial recognition tech on US citizens MORE (D-Minn.) expressed regret for saying in a 2012 tweet that “Israel has hypnotized the world” while doing “evil,” saying she had not realized her words would be offensive to Jewish people.

Omar responded in a series of tweets early Tuesday to New York Times opinion writer Bari Weiss, who had written a column criticizing the freshman lawmaker.

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Omar has been under scrutiny for a 2012 tweet amid the Israeli conflict with Hamas in Gaza, in which she wrote: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel.”

Omar was previously asked about the tweet in a CNN interview earlier this month. She defended herself at the time, saying, “Those unfortunate words were the only ones I could think about expressing at that moment.”

She said that led to a turning point.

“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,” Omar wrote in a tweet directed at Weiss.

She wrote that Weiss was “correct” in writing that “perhaps Ms. Omar is sincerely befuddled and not simply deflecting.”

Omar said that she had been focused in trying to put her past tweet "in the context of the Gaza War" rather than acknowledging why it may have been offensive.

“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,” Omar wrote.

But Omar, a refugee from Somalia who was one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, added that her criticism of the Israeli government should not be considered an attack on the country's associated religion.

“With that said, it is important to distinguish between criticizing a military action by a government and attacking a particular people of faith,” Omar wrote. “I will not shy away of criticism of any government when I see injustice — whether it be Saudi Arabia, Somalia, even our own government!”

Omar's critics had pointed to her past comments while questioning her appointment to the House Foreign Affairs Committee this month. House GOP leaders had criticized Democrats last week for giving Omar a seat on the panel.

“Anti-Semitism has no place in Congress and certainly not on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. I am deeply disappointed in Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi’s choice, a choice that threatens the Committee’s long history of bipartisan support for Israel," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe case for congressional pay raises McConnell defends Trump amid backlash: 'He gets picked at every day' McConnell defends Trump amid backlash: 'He gets picked at every day' MORE (R-Calif.) said in a statement.