- Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
- House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer took aim at comments made by other Democrats that were widely seen as anti-Semitic during a speech at the pro-Israel lobby’s largest annual conference.
- Hoyer said he and most Democrats stand with Israel ‘proudly and unapologetically.’
- He also announced a large delegation of Democrats will travel to Israel later this year.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer blasted freshman Democrats who have loudly been criticizing the United States’ alliance with Israel, calling out the past comments by Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar that echoed anti-Semitic tropes about dual loyalties with the Jewish state.
During a speech at the annual conference hosted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Sunday in Washington, Hoyer issued a fiery defense of his support for Israel.
“I stand with Israel, proudly and unapologetically. So, when someone accuses American supporters of Israel of dual loyalty, I say: accuse me,” said Hoyer, the second ranked Democrat in the House. “I am part of a large, bipartisan coalition in Congress supporting Israel. I tell Israel’s detractors: accuse us. And millions of Americans, regardless of race or faith or partisan label, stand with Israel because they understand why our relationship with Israel is so important. Accuse us all!”
Hoyer laid into accusations by some Democrats that full-throated defenses of Israel were the result of loyalty to another country outside the United States.
“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,” he said.
Hoyer also took part of his speech to condemn the boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement that would place heavy punishments on Israel.
“Because when the curtain is pulled back, everyone can see what that movement truly is: a front for delegitimizing the Jewish people’s right to self-determination,” he said. “Democracy only works when citizens are educated and informed. As advocates for truth, we here in this room must educate and inform our fellow Americans about what BDS really aims to do: destroy a partner democracy and one of America’s most faithful allies.”
Both Omar and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib have supported the BDS movement. New York Rep. While Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has not supported the BDS movement explicitly, she is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, which has.
Hoyer noted in the speech that he would be leading a delegation of lawmakers to Israel in August, making a point of noting that “many freshman” will be joining him.
“They will see first-hand the threats and challenges faced by Israel and its people as well as their extraordinary courage and achievements,” he said.
Omar’s comments prompted a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, which Democratic leadership had to alter to include all types of bigotry after members felt like Omar was being singled out.
In addition, Tlaib was found to have written a blog post for the website ran by Louis Farrakhan, a noted anti-Semite and leader of the Nation of Islam.
A spokesperson for Tlaib told INSIDER at the time she “has not had any direct contact with Farrakhan and condemns his anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ views.”