Rep. Ilhan Omar defends anti-Israel tweet on CNN

Those 'were the only words I could think about expressing at that moment,' said congresswoman

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) walks on Capitol Hill (photo credit: YURI GRIPAS/REUTERS)
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) walks on Capitol Hill
(photo credit: YURI GRIPAS/REUTERS)
During an interview on CNN on Wednesday, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) defended a 2012 tweet in which she said that Israel had “hypnotized the world.”
“Those unfortunate words were the only words I could think about expressing at that moment,” Omar told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour during the interview. “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.”
The tweet, which Omar wrote in November 2012 during Operation Pillar of Defense, reads: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” The newly minted congresswoman faced a wave of criticism over the tweet, which many called antisemitic.
Amanpour said to Omar that it has become “a rite of passage for politicians in the United States... to pay homage to AIPAC,” the pro-Israel lobbying group, and asked her if Jewish Americans “should be worried” about her views.
“In that tweet and in any other conversation I’ve had, I only talk about the State of Israel,” said Omar, who was sworn in to Congress earlier this month. “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.”
Omar said she is not afraid to call out the behavior of other countries, including Arab ones.
“I say the same things if not worse when it comes to the Saudi government,” she said. “I’ve called for boycotts of hajj, and boycotts of Saudi Arabia, because to me it is important when you see oppression taking place – when you see regression – when you see our values being attacked as humans, you must stand up, and it doesn’t matter who the inhabiters of that particular region might be.”