House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is one of Israel’s most fervid allies in the Democratic Party, if not all of D.C. Despite being the second-most-powerful Democrat in the House, for example, Hoyer gleefully threw progressive freshman members—including Ilhan Omar—under the bus earlier this year at AIPAC in exchange for some raucous applause.
In a statement on Thursday following the decision of the Israeli government to ban Omar and fellow Rep. Rashida Tlaib from entering the country, Hoyer said that the Israeli ambassador to the United States had falsely told him that Tlaib and Omar would be allowed to travel to Israel. So how did Hoyer respond to being lied to by a foreign diplomat about whether or not two Muslim members of his own party would be allowed entry into Israel, you might ask?
By calling it “outrageous” and then quickly wringing his hands dry enough to make sure Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t get too mad about it.
“Israel is a strong and resilient nation. It is a robust democracy with a wide divergence of views and opinions, as is the United States,” Hoyer said in a statement, just a paragraph after describing the country’s decision to bar Tlaib and Omar, ostensibly because of their views on the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, as “outrageous.”
“When members of Congress visit Israel,” Hoyer continued, “They gain a stronger appreciation for its unique challenges and the existential threats that endanger Israel’s survival as a Jewish, democratic state.”
Contrast this with a tweet by Democratic Rep. Max Rose, a Blue Dog Democrat who’s Jewish, represents a swing seat, and like Hoyer, is forcefully pro-Israel:
Relatively little hand-wringing here!
In practice, it should be noted, Omar and Tlaib’s offenses during their congressional careers amount to voting against a congressional resolution opposing BDS, and sponsoring legislation Omar introduced reaffirming the right of Americans to take part in peaceful protest. One of the boycotts by “Americans of conscience” cited in the legislation is the boycott against Nazi Germany “in response to the dehumanization of the Jewish people in the lead-up to the Holocaust.”
Despite their reported attempts to actually stop Israel from actually banning Tlaib and Omar from entering the country once it came to that, top Democrats are not blameless in this, either. Trump might’ve pressured Israel by tweet either way, but Democrats like Hoyer and Josh Gottheimer continuously boosted the ridiculous myth that anyone who criticizes the co-dependency between the U.S. and Israeli governments—or anyone who speaks out against the occupation of Palestine, or the attempts to criminalize free speech— is an anti-Semite who wants Israelis to die. Hoyer also piled onto the baseless attacks against Omar in particular. All of that sure as hell didn’t help.
And hear me out: what if the real existential threat to the survival of a country like Israel comes from supposedly restricting the right to travel for those who criticize the occupation and the violation of Palestinians’ human rights, as they’re cheered on by the American government?
On second thought, nah. The real threat is a bunch of people refusing to buy SodaStreams. Job well done, Steny.