Representative Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), asked during a Wednesday evening CNN interview about her claim that “Israel hypnotized the world,” explained that she resorted to the “unfortunate” language upon being overcome with emotion after seeing images of Israeli bombs falling on the Gaza strip.
“I remember when that was happening, watching tv and really feeling as if no other life was being impacted in this war and… those unfortunate words were the only words I could think about expressing at the moment,” Omar told CNN’s Christine Amanpour, referencing Israel’s 2012 airstrike offensive in Gaza.
“And what’s really important to me is that there is a difference between criticizing a military action by a government that has exercised really oppressive policies and being offensive…to particular people of faith,” she added.
The critical tweet Amanpour referenced was released during Israel’s eight-day Operation Pillar of Defense in Palestine, which resulted in the death of Hamas’s military chief in Gaza.
Omar, a member of the progressive freshman Democratic class elected in November, immigrated to the U.S. from Somalia as a teenager after spending four years in a Kenyan refugee camp. Her unique backstory and her status as the first woman to wear a hijab in Congress has elicited significant media attention.