“I stand against apartheid because I believe that all people deserve to live under equal rights, regardless of ethnicity or religion,” said Phara Souffrant Forrest.

BROOKLYN (JNS) — Claiming that she was misunderstood, a New York state assemblywoman deleted a controversial tweet that replaced a map of Israel with Palestine and adorned with flowers.

“I deleted a previous tweet that led to misunderstandings about my position,” said Phara Souffrant Forrest, 32, who’s also a nurse. “My position has always been about peace and justice. I stand against apartheid because I believe that all people deserve to live under equal rights, regardless of ethnicity or religion.”

The map, however, was just one of several anti-Israel tweets by Souffrant Forrest, who touts support from Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on her website. Serving her first term in office, Souffrant Forrest also posted: “It is a moral stain on our country and all who live here to have our government and elected officials continue to prop up an Israeli state dedicated to apartheid. We must change that. #BDS #FreePalestine.”

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Local Jewish community member Avi Lesches said, “In short, it is extremely disturbing and upsetting, to say the least, especially when this is coming from an elected official who represents a portion of Crown Heights,” the Brooklyn neighborhood that is home to the Chabad-Lubavitch movement and one of the largest Jewish areas of New York City. “An elected person is supposed to represent all the people of their district, not just those they agree with. … I welcome Assemblywoman Forrest to meet with members of the Crown Heights Jewish community … to learn who we are and what we stand for before making blanket statements that are not only hurtful but shameful.”

Scott Richman, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League New York/New Jersey, said “it is incendiary and outrageous, especially at such a sensitive time, for any public official to make references to erasing Israel’s existence from the map or denying its Jewish history as well as leveling claims of apartheid.”

StandWithUs Northeast’s regional director Avi Posnick pointed out that “it’s a shame that the assemblywoman would spread misinformation and lies about the Jewish state at a time when anti-Semitism is rampant, especially in New York. This is the time for our elected officials to bring people together, not cause more division.” Read more at JNS