At the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference tonight, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer had some, uh, interesting things to say about recent controversies over Congress’ relationship with the Israel lobby.
“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, according to the Washington Post.
Hoyer, of course, is referencing the ongoing, maddening controversy over Rep. Ilhan Omar’s comments about the influence of the Israel lobby, and AIPAC in particular, on Congress. And he’s not exactly proving her wrong.
After the hubbub over Omar’s comments, House Democrats passed a resolution condemning all forms of hate. The resolution was originally planned to specifically condemn anti-Semitism, but progressives in Congress pushed for it to include other forms of hate, like Islamophobia, which they argued might have some relevance to this entire debacle.
In the wake of this absurd controversy, some prominent Democrats decided not to skip AIPAC this year, notably several 2020 candidates. But Hoyer and other big-time Democrats, like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer, headed to the conference as usual.
Meanwhile, in Congress, Democrats are still attempting to show the American people just how not-influenced by AIPAC they are. Their latest effort is a House resolution proposed by Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Bradley Schneider, supported by AIPAC, which condemns the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
Activists critical of Israel use BDS, which is partially inspired by the boycotts of South Africa during apartheid, to put pressure Israel over their treatment of Palestinians. Anti-BDS lawmakers say the movement is anti-Semitic.
Hoyer, unsurprisingly, also threw his support behind the resolution during his AIPAC speech.
After a brief acknowledgement that Israel and the U.S. sometimes fail “to follow our own ideals,” Hoyer dismissed any harsher criticism of the U.S.-Israel alliance.
“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, according to the Washington Post.
“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.”
Of course, under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has slid ever-closer to racist autocracy. Just earlier this month, in preparation for an upcoming election, Netanyahu said that Israel is “the national state, not of all its citizens, but only of the Jewish people.”
I’ll give Hoyer this—Netanyahu’s comments do indeed sound like a mirror image of our own racist, human rights-violating regime.