Steny Hoyer Under Fire for Condemning Anti-Semitism

House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) is taking a stand against the Democratic Party's base. The 79-year-old congressman not only attended and delivered a speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference on Sunday—Hoyer also took a not-so-subtle jab at freshman Democrats such as Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) who have come under fire for repeatedly making anti-Semitic remarks.

After declaring himself "proudly and unapologetically" supportive of Israel, Hoyer told the AIPAC audience: "When someone accuses American supporters of Israel of dual loyalty, I say: Accuse me … Let's have debates on policy instead of impugning the loyalty of Israel's supporters."

Hoyer's comments appeared to be in reference to Rep. Omar's repeated suggestions that American supporters of Israel expect "allegiance" and "pledge support to a foreign country." Omar's remarks prompted Rep. Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, to request an apology for the "vile anti-Semitic slur."

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House Democratic leaders initially prepared a resolution to condemn Omar's anti-Semitic comments, but received pushback from rank-and-file members, including celebrity freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), which resulted in the resolution being expanded into a broad condemnation of all forms of "hate."

Hoyer was stepping out of line with his party's base by even appearing at the AIPAC conference. Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) is the only Democratic presidential candidate scheduled to attend. Hoyer's swipe at Omar, meanwhile, earned him a healthy dose of disapproval from liberals and Democratic activists, including former Obama aide and "Pod Save America" bro Tommy Vietor.

Joe Crowley is the former member of House Democratic leadership who lost his primary election to Ocasio-Cortez, who was also recently the subject of a veiled barb from Hoyer. During an appearance on Fox News—yet another act of transgression—Hoyer downplayed the enthusiasm among House Democrats for impeaching President Donald J. Trump.

"We’ve got 62 new [Democratic] members. Not three," Hoyer said, presumably alluding to the three most newsworthy members of the freshman class: Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.), who has also dabbled in anti-Semitism, and is best known for her unnuanced stance on impeachment.

When Hoyer posted the transcript of his AIPAC remarks on Twitter, a popular social networking website, he was immediately bombarded with aggrieved activists using the hashtag #IStandWithIlhan.