Pence lashes out at Omar, 2020 Dems in AIPAC speech

Netanyahu also took the opportunity to label United States critics of Israel's treatment of Palestinians as "anti-Semitic".

"I read this as AIPAC's effort to support something that can get overwhelming bipartisan support, which is a resolution against BDS but not legislation that will impose penalties on those who support it", said Michael Koplow, the director of the Washington-based Israel Policy Forum.

"I don't understand why members of this committee should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful", she said, referencing controversial charges by the left wing in the 1980s that since have been refuted.

Omar's remarks loomed over the Washington gathering of pro-Israel advocates, as most speakers mentioned her in some way. He made a decision to cut his visit short after a rocket fired from Gaza injured at least seven people and destroyed a residential home in central Israel.

"Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi took a swipe at Rep. Ilhan Omar at the annual AIPAC convention this week; saying in 'Democratic societies" no one should question another's "loyalty or patriotism".

"We hope you will continue to demonstrate your commitment to the high moral standards of your office by removing Rep. Omar, a woman who has repeatedly exhibited strong biases against the state of Israel and the Jewish people, from this critically important and sensitive committee".

Republicans, including President Trump, have sought to capitalize politically on the rift in the Democratic Party over Omar's comments.

Critics say Trump's move to recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel was aimed to boost Netanyahu's popularity at home ahead of Israeli elections, which will be in April.

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Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland), the second-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, declared that he didn't "accept" that Omar and Talib are antisemitic. She drew condemnation in February, even from fellow Democrats, after she implied that Jewish politicians in the USA were bought.

He claimed that anti-Semitic tropes had "received new prominence by a sitting member of Congress".

The bill, which passed in the US Senate last month with the support of the majority of Democratic lawmakers, is the latest US legislative measure to target the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Yet attendees said Democrats need to tackle anti-Semitism directly and without lumping it in with other forms of bigotry.

"We proudly stand with Israel", Hoyer concluded.

On the other hand, the ever-growing list of Democrat candidates seeking their party's nomination matches the list of those choosing to eschew the AIPAC Policy Conference. To state the obvious, AIPAC is not the same thing as Israel.

Democratic Representative Eliot Engel, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee, said he welcomes policy debate but that it was "deeply offensive to call into question the loyalty of fellow American citizens due to their political views, including the U.S. -Israel relationship".

"We must also be vigilant against bigoted or risky ideologies masquerading as policy, and that includes BDS", Pelosi said at AIPAC.

  • Sonia Alvarado