A Somali-American candidate for Congress in Minnesota has rejected accusations that a 2012 tweet accusing Israel of “evil doings” amounts to anti-Semitism.
Ilhan Omar, now a state representative, responded to recent criticism of the tweet by calling the Jewish state “the apartheid Israeli regime.”
Omar, who is among several Muslim women in the U.S. running for Congress, wrote in a tweet in November 2012 that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel”
The tweet came two days after the Israeli army began an operation in Gaza triggered by the launching of 100 rockets at Israel from the strip over a 24-hour period.
In an interview with ABC News for a segment titled “Progressive Democrats increasingly criticize Israel, and could reap political rewards,” Omar addressed the accusations of anti-Semitism from conservative critics.
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“These accusations are without merit,” she said. “They are rooted in bigotry toward a belief about what Muslims are stereotyped to believe.”
Omar has neither apologized for nor retracted the tweet.
She is running to succeed Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, who was the first Muslim elected to the Congress. Ellison is running for attorney general in Minnesota and is not seeking re-election.
Omar has received some pushback on social media in recent weeks.
A tweet from a Twitter user with the handle @shabbosgoy called her a “proud Jew hater” after she made a brief appearance in the music video of the pop group Maroon 5’s song “Girls Like You.”
Omar responded in a tweet: “Drawing attention to the apartheid Israeli regime is far from hating Jews. You are a hateful sad man, I pray to Allah you get the help you need and find happiness.” She added: “Well you know, if a Muslim says something negative about Israeli government, they must hate Jews. Didn’t you get that memo.”