House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer defended the American-Israeli alliance on Sunday, taking aim at Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar for her repeated anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements.
“I am an American who believes passionately in the idea of Israel, in the State of Israel, and in the essential right of Jews to have a place of sanctuary in their homeland after millennia of hatred, prejudice, exclusion, dehumanization, and attempted annihilation,” Hoyer said during a speech at American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) 2019 conference. “The State of Israel, founded upon that profound and transcendent premise, must never be allowed to fail.”
Omar’s time in congressional office has been embroiled in allegations of anti-Semitism. She has defended her anti-Israel statements, such as ones invoking Allah to expose Israel’s “evil doings,” and she is on record stating that Israel is not a democracy. She also gave an interview to a host that referred to Israel as the “Jewish ISIS” and mocked how Americans speak about al-Qaeda and Hezbollah. Interestingly, Omar waited until after she won her congressional electionto reveal her support BDS.
Consequently, Hoyer’s speech received backlash from the progressive wing of his base, who referred to his comments as “shameful” and “unhinged.”
“Last night, I made a comment during my remarks that was, unfortunately, misinterpreted, and I want to make sure there is no ambiguity about what I said,” Hoyer said in a statement Monday. “Our Caucus has a dynamic freshman class of sixty-three new Members, all of whom are doing a great job and bringing unique perspectives and backgrounds to their work in the House.”
“In pointing out that much of the press attention has been on a few new Members in particular, I was lamenting that the media does not appear to be paying enough attention to other excellent new Members who are also bringing important new energy and diverse perspectives to our Caucus and to the Congress,” he continued. “I am proud and excited to serve with all of our new Democratic Members, who reflect the diversity of our country better than any freshman class in our history.”
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