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January 17, 2019 1:32 pm

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar Defends 2012 Anti-Israel Tweet Widely Condemned as Antisemitic

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avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN). Photo: Reuters / Joshua Roberts.

In two recent interviews, newly-installed Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) defended an anti-Israel tweet she published six years ago that was widely condemned as antisemitic.

During Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012 — an eight-day IDF offensive against the Gaza Strip-ruling Hamas terror group — Omar wrote, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel.”

The tweet drew strong criticism, as it appeared to evoke classic antisemitic themes regarding Jewish power.

In an interview with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto of CNN on Thursday, Omar objected to the characterization of the tweet as antisemitic.

“That’s a really regrettable way of expressing that,” Omar said. “I don’t know how my comments would be offensive to Jewish Americans. My comments precisely are addressing what was happening during the Gaza war and I am clearly speaking about the way that the Israeli regime was conducting itself in that war.”

In a previous CNN interview with Christiane Amanpour, Omar described her phrasing of the tweet as “unfortunate,” but maintained that the language consisted of “the only words I could think about expressing at that moment.”

“What is really important to me is that people recognize that there is a difference between criticizing the military action by a government that has exercised really oppressive policies and being offensive or attacking to particular people of faith,” she stated. “I say the same things if not worse when it comes to the Saudi government.”

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