Pence Swipes Ilhan Omar, Democratic 2020 Presidential Hopefuls Over Support for Israel

By Patrick Goodenough | March 25, 2019 | 7:02pm EDT
Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the annual AIPAC policy conference. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

( – Any member of Congress who “slanders those who support” a strong U.S.-Israel alliance has no place on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Vice President Mike Pence said on Monday.

He did not name Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) but accused “a freshman Democrat in Congress” of having “trafficked in repeated anti-Semitic tropes” and having “accused Americans who support Israel of being bought off by campaign contributions.”

In a well-received speech at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference, Pence also slammed Democratic 2020 presidential contenders for staying away from the AIPAC conference (after said three-quarters of its members agreed that “any progressive vying to be the Democratic nominee for president should skip the AIPAC conference.”)

“So let me be clear on this point: Anyone who aspires to the highest office in the land should not be afraid to stand with the strongest supporters of Israel in America,” he said. “It is wrong to boycott Israel, and it is wrong boycott AIPAC.”

Pence recalled, too, that all but one of the senators among the 2020 Democratic presidential contenders had voted against a bipartisan resolution last month which enables state and local governments to divest from any company or fund which boycotts, divests from, or sanctions Israel.

(The exception was Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who supported the bill. The “no” votes came from announced presidential candidates Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Kamala Harris (Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) )

Pence said strong support for Israel used to be bipartisan, invoking the record of “the party of Harry Truman, which did so much to help create the State of Israel,” and “the late and the great” Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.)

Senior Democratic lawmakers are participating in the AIPAC conference, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) in his speech Sunday both pushed back at the stance of members like Omar and reaffirmed his party’s strong support for Israel.

Excerpted remarks by Pence:

You know, there was a time when support for Israel was not a partisan issue here in Washington. I’ll never forget the day in 2007 that I, a conservative Christian Republican, was asked to co-found the Congressional Anti-Semitism Task Force by the only Holocaust survivor ever to serve in Congress – the Democrat Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the late and great Tom Lantos.

Support for Israel, as was reflected in that moment when Chairman Lantos came by my office, has been a long and bipartisan tradition in the Congress, spanning generations.

But how things have changed. It’s astonishing to think that the party of Harry Truman, which did so much to help create the State of Israel, has been co-opted by people who promote rank, anti-Semitic rhetoric, and work to undermine the broad American consensus of support for Israel.

Recently, a freshman Democrat in Congress trafficked in repeated anti-Semitic tropes; alleged congressional support for Israel reflected an “allegiance to a foreign country.” Said that Israel had, and I quote, “hypnotized the world.” And she accused Americans who support Israel of being bought off by campaign contributions.

Anti-Semitism has no place in the Congress of the United States of America. And, at a minimum, anyone who slanders those who support this historic alliance between the United States and Israel should never have a seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States House of Representatives.

See also:

GOP Leaders Slam Appointment of Boycott-Israel Supporter to House Foreign Affairs Committee (Jan. 17, 2019)

Rep. Ilhan Omar Under Fire For Tweets Insinuating Lawmakers Are Paid Off for Supporting Israel (Feb. 11, 2019)

Calls For Democratic Leadership to Remove Rep. Ilhan Omar From House Foreign Affairs Committee (Feb. 11, 2019)

Rep. Ilhan Omar in Twitter Spat With Senior Jewish Democrat Over ‘Dual Loyalty’ Insinuation (Mar. 3, 2019)

House Condemns Anti-Semitism, Anti-Muslim Discrimination, 'Bigotry Against Minorities' (Mar. 7, 2019)

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