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November 22nd, 2019

Nation

Hoyer delivers strong defense of US-Israel alliance in veiled rebuke of Muslim Dem pol Omar

Paul Kane

By Paul Kane The Washington Post

Published March 25, 2019

Hoyer delivers strong defense of US-Israel alliance in veiled rebuke of Muslim Dem pol Omar
   
   
	Michael Robinson Chavezfor The Washington Post
WASHINGTON - House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., delivered a strong defense Sunday of the U.S.-Israel alliance and directed a thinly veiled rebuke to a fellow Democrat whose remarks sparked charges of anti-Semitism that roiled the party's new majority.

Hoyer, a longtime ally of Israel, came down squarely on the side of standing with Israel at a time when younger Democrats and some contenders for the party's 2020 presidential nomination criticize Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rightward shift and his moves closer to President Donald Trump and Republicans.

"I stand with Israel, proudly and unapologetically. So, when someone accuses American supporters of Israel of dual loyalty, I say: Accuse me. I am part of a large, bipartisan coalition in Congress supporting Israel. I tell Israel's detractors: Accuse us," Hoyer said at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual conference at Washington's Convention Center.

The meeting was supposed to ease tensions between Muslim and Jewish Democrats. It ended with tears

Hoyer's "dual loyalty" remarks served as a rejoinder to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), the first-term lawmaker whose recent remarks have sparked the heated debate inside the Democratic caucus and across the nation among liberal activists.


This month, Omar suggested Israel's supporters are motivated by political donations and have "allegiance" to a foreign country, sparking a messy public reckoning over anti-Semitism. That led to several days of heated debate among Democrats about whether to condemn those remarks, before they eventually reached a compromise on a broadly worded resolution that condemned many forms of hate.

But the issue has not gone away. A new resolution sponsored by Reps. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Bradley Schneider, D-Ill., rejects the global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, or BDS, which tries to apply economic pressure to compel Israel to change its policy toward the Palestinians. Israel's allies in Congress say the changes BDS supporters want would effectively end Israel's identity as a Jewish homeland.

AIPAC backs the resolution, and Hoyer on Sunday threw his full support behind it with a promise to "defeat BDS."

The organization's annual Washington gathering is reviving many of the heated discussions from early March. Hoyer was the first of several top-ranking Democrats to speak to the powerful group, followed later this week by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.

Netanyahu, who arrived in Washington on Sunday, meets with Trump on Monday and will address the conference Tuesday just weeks ahead of a tense reelection battle back home.

Hoyer began his remarks by explaining that, although he is not Jewish and does not have many Jewish constituents, he has traveled to Israel 15 times, many of those AIPAC-sponsored trips with him serving as the lead Democrat.

He delivered some mild criticism - that the United States and Israel at times fail "to follow our own ideals" - but he said politicians do a disservice to that by using tropes about Jews and money. In early February Omar suggested that U.S. politicians had a loyalty to AIPAC that was "about the Benjamins."

"What weakens us, though, is when, instead of engaging in legitimate debate about policies, someone questions the motives of his or her fellow citizens or tries to silence others through exclusion, disenfranchisement, or fear," Hoyer said.

"In a region of dictatorships and dynasties, Israel remains a beachhead of freedom and representative government. In Israel's democracy, where rule of law is upheld and freedom of expression is assured, Americans see a mirror image of our own."

Democratic divide over Omar's remarks tests Pelosi's ability to unify caucus

Republicans have tried to use the controversy to split Democrats from one of their traditional blocs of support - a recent Gallup poll found that only 16 percent of Jewish Americans identified as Republicans last year.

Trump recently called the Democratic Party "anti-Israel" and "anti-Jewish" after House leaders broadened a resolution responding to Omar by condemning all forms of hatred.

"We are loyal Americans, patriots who believe it is in America's interest that Israel remains strong and free and supported as a place of refuge from the haters of the world," Hoyer said, concluding his remarks with another rejection of the "dual loyalty" charge.

"We proudly stand with Israel. Accuse us."

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Previously:

03/11/19: After a week of Twitter spats, the Dem caucus does some soul searching
03/07/19: Dem divide over toxic Muslim pol's remarks tests Pelosi's ability to unify caucus
03/04/19: House Dems struggle to break through when it's all Trump, all the time
03/01/19: Cummings and Meadows have almost nothing in common --- except a friendship
02/22/19: Dems now searching for candidates with a fresh face and interesting backgrounds that are short on legislative voting records
02/11/19: Pelosi and Dingell rivalry reflects the evolution of the Dem Party
01/07/19: Why Congress isn't feeling the pressure for a fast deal to end the shutdown --- yet
11/19/18: DEMS DEUX? Donkeys' reckoning, gamble
11/06/18: If Dems seize House, expect creation of political whiplash, more division
10/23/18: Regardless of who wins the House, massive turnover is ahead
10/19/18: Republican candidates rely on stealth campaigner George W. Bush
10/04/18: The Senate's two faces: A day marked by bipartisan achievements and character attacks
07/02/18: Plenty of drama is coming on Supreme Court nominee --- but not in Senate questioning
06/28/18: Powerful Dem's loss divides, stuns about the future of party leadership
06/27/18: Crowley's loss leaves gaping void for next generation of Dem leaders
03/22/18: How Senate Republicans could cause trouble for Trump's latest Cabinet nominees
02/06/18: Paul Ryan's defense of FBI sets him apart from loudest voices within GOP
12/02/17: If Cotton moves to the CIA, it would say a lot about how the GOP star views his party's future
11/02/17: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finally has something to brag about: Conservative judicial appointments
08/29/17: In the Year of the Deciding Vote, one Dem's corruption trial could change the Senate --- or not
08/28/17: President is distancing himself from Hill GOPers to inoculate himself from blame for midterm losses. He may be helping Dems take the House
07/27/17: GOP senators warn Trump that getting rid of Sessions would be terrible move
05/30/17: Rahm Emanuel on Dem problems: 'You're not going to solve it in 2018'
05/29/17: Sen. Lindsey Graham: Comey needs to be 'held accountable' over Clinton investigation decisions
05/29/17: Montana election proves liberal outrage isn't enough
03/22/17: Gorsuch steals Dems' line of attack
02/27/17: 'All politics is local'? Not any more
02/01/17: Fight over Supreme Court nominee could forever change the nature of ... the Senate
01/23/17: A possible cushion for Trump's Cabinet nominees: Dems with elections in 2018
01/12/17: Trump outsmarts Dems and their media sycophants yet again
01/11/17: Rubio is the man to watch in Tillerson's confirmation hearing
11/08/16: Sometimes even the best Senate candidates can't win
07/14/16: The likely end of vice presidents as congressional emissaries
05/02/16: Is the 2016 election about to change again? Dem Schumer, a one-man super PAC?
03/31/16: And now for some good newsCan Trump become so unpopular that Dems take back the House?

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