Rep. Ilhan Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, took to Twitter to apologize for a 2012 tweet in which she said that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel.”
At the time, Omar was a nutrition coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Education. Even though she is just a first-year federal lawmaker, Omar now sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
New York Times Op-ed Criticizes Omar
On Monday, Jan. 21, New York Times opinion editor and writer Bari Weiss criticized Omar for the seven-year-old tweet and answers she gave to CNN last week about the tweet.
“That’s a really regrettable way of expressing that,” Omar told CNN’s Poppy Harlow. “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’m clearly speaking about the way the Israeli regime was conducting itself in that war.”
Wrote Weiss: “Perhaps Ms. Omar is sincerely befuddled and not simply deflecting. Because sentiments like these, once beyond the pale of our public discourse, are being heard with greater frequency and volume these days, allow me to explain why this Jewish American, and almost every Jewish American I know, found her words so offensive.”
Omar’s Response on Twitter
Omar, who is a Somalian refugee, answered Weiss on Twitter. Here is her tweet followed by the text in her succeeding posts:
You are correct when you say,
“Perhaps Ms. Omar is sincerely befuddled and not simply deflecting”
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. pic.twitter.com/IxPScaSzGw
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 22, 2019
“That statement came in the context of the Gaza War.
“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.
“With that said, it is important to distinguish between criticizing a military action by a government and attacking a particular people of faith.
“I will not shy away of criticism of any government when I see injustice — whether it be Saudi Arabia, Somalia, even our own government!
“As a survivor of war, the acts of war justified or not will always be acts of evil to me.
“Like #MLK90, I unapologetically believe ‘Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.’
“It is important that when you see oppression taking place — when you see our values being attacked as humans — you stand up, and it doesn’t matter who the inhabitors of that particular region might be.
“Whether it is your father, your brother or your sister, you speak up.
“There are many narratives of who and what I am, designed to demonize and vilify me.
“It’s (been) building since my early days as an organizer. A concussion didn’t deter me and smears certainly won’t. I fought for my seat at the table & will use it to fight a more peaceful world!”