No one who spoke at the AIPAC Policy Conference was pleased with Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, though none called her out by name.
By Joseph Wolkin, World Israel News
The main speakers at the AIPAC Policy Conference denounced Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, though none called her out by name.
On Sunday morning, AIPAC CEO Howard Kohr, without mentioning Omar in particular, lashed out at those who question American Jews’ loyalty, describing such comments as “defamation masquerading as discourse.”
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), who also did not explicitly mention Omar, said on Sunday, “I stand with Israel, proudly and apologetically. 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.”
Earlier this month, Omar tweeted that she should “not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.”
The controversy surrounding Omar, and the difficulty Democrats have had in dealing with her, placed Democratic politicians somewhat on the defensive at AIPAC.
“The vast majority of Democrats support Israel, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “The vast majority of progressives support the State of Israel.”
But the biggest progressive stars were noticeably absent from the conference, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas).
Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez, Harris and Warren have all defended Omar against the backlash sparked by her comments, which borrowed heavily from anti-Semitic themes.
Fighting hate, wherever it comes from, is a major theme at this year’s AIPAC conference, which can be seen at the dozens of breakout sessions throughout the conference.
Sarah Tuttle-Singer, new media director of The Times of Israel, said of Omar during one of those sessions, “I liked her. But I was uncomfortable with her stance on boycotts. I liked so much of her, her policies and her story. And then, I saw the tweet from 2012. The old dirty-Jew anti-Semitism has become the new anti-Zionism.”
Singer, speaking on a panel called “International Media in Israel” with i24News CEO Frank Melloul and a soldier from the IDF’s social media unit, expressed what she felt about Omar’s statement.
“So many Jewish progressives reached out to her and wrote to her,” Singer said. “It’s based on these very significant anti-Semitic tropes. She might not have been aware of it at first, but she’s certainly aware of it now.”