A Somali-American Muslim woman running to succeed Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison in Minnesota has pushed back against accusations of anti-Semitism over comments she made against Israel.
In a 2012 tweet, Minnesota State Representative Ilhan Omar accused Israel of “evil doings” as the Israeli military carried out an aerial campaign meant to halt rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip by Hamas and other terror groups.
“Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel,” she wrote at the time.
Amid heightened scrutiny over the tweet as she runs for the congressional seat in Minnesota’s 5th district, Omar told ABC News on Sunday she is not anti-Semitic and accused critics of “bigotry.”
“These accusations are without merit. They are rooted in bigotry toward a belief about what Muslims are stereotyped to believe,” she said, without apologizing for or retracting her claims from the 2012 tweet.
Omar has also hit back at critics on social media, including one Twitter user who referred to her as a “proud Jew hater” after she made a cameo in the music video of pop group Maroon 5’s song “Girls Like You.”
“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 wrote in response.
Omar also notably opposed a bill in the Minnesota legislature barring the state from working with companies that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.
Like Ellison, Omar is a member of the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party, the Democratic Party’s Minnesota affiliate.
Ellison, the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, is stepping down from congress in order to run for attorney general of Minnesota.
He too has been accused by critics of anti-Semitism over comments he has made about Israel and for his ties to the Nation of Islam.