Omar Defends Anti-Israel Tweet: 'I Don't Know How My Comments Could Be Offensive to Jewish Americans'

January 17, 2019

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) defended an old tweet on CNN Thursday, denying it could be offensive to Jewish Americans. The tweet has offended Jewish Americans.

In 2012, Omar tweeted that "Israel has hypnotized the world," calling its behavior "evil."

With the tweet displayed on screen, CNN's Poppy Harlow asked Omar what she would say "to Jewish Americans who find that deeply offensive."

"Oh, that's a really regrettable way of expressing that," Omar replied to the direct question. "I don't know how my comments would be offensive to Jewish Americans."

The comment is reminiscent of the anti-Semitic idea of unnatural Jewish influence and control over the world. Various Jewish Americans have criticized Omar for the tweet, such as the New York Post's David Harsanyi, who said she "used a well-worn anti-Semitic trope about the preternatural ability of a nefarious Jewish cabal to deceive the world."

When previously pressed about the tweet, Omar accused those offended of themselves being bigots. "These accusations are without merit," she replied to one. "They are rooted in bigotry toward a belief about what Muslims are stereotyped to believe."

Omar campaigned as supportive of Jewish issues. During a debate in a synagogue, she expressed opposition to the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement directed at Israel, but she reversed course once elected. The Jewish Daily Forward described the "change in tune" as "a bait-and-switch to many Jewish Minnesotans."

The Anti-Defamation League considers "many of the founding goals of BDS" to be anti-Semitic. Following Omar's deception, the ADL called on her to "clarify" her views. She has not.

Harlow moved to another topic after Omar's answer.