Hoyer defends Israel in veiled shot at Omar

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerPelosi's staff huddles with aides in both parties on 'surprise' medical billing House panel approves bill to grant DC statehood Democrats bullish on bill to create women's history museum: 'It's an election year' MORE (D-Md.) delivered Sunday a strong defense of Israel to thousands of attendees at a pro-Israel conference in a veiled rebuke of freshman Democratic Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarOmar endorses progressive Georgia Democrat running for House seat Tlaib says she held Omar's hand during 'triggering' moments at Trump's State of the Union speech Key House Democrat says Perez must go: 'He doesn't lead on anything' MORE (Minn.).

“I stand with Israel, proudly and unapologetically. So when someone accuses American supporters of Israel of dual loyalty, I say: Accuse me,” Hoyer said at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference to resounding applause. “I am part of a large, bipartisan coalition in Congress supporting Israel, an overwhelming majority in the Congress of the United States. And I tell Israel’s accusers and detractors: Accuse us.”

Hoyer did not mention Omar by name during his address at the conference’s opening night.

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But the mention of “dual loyalty” appeared to reference comments Omar made last month that have been widely condemned as anti-Semitic.

At a Washington event late last month, Omar said she wanted “to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

That comment came after Omar was earlier criticized for invoking an anti-Semitic trope when she tweeted that “it's all about the Benjamins baby” in reference to lawmaker support for Israel. In a subsequent tweet, Omar directly called out AIPAC, suggesting it was the lobbying group responsible for U.S. support of Israel.

Both the “Benjamins” tweet and the “allegiance” comment were widely condemned as invoking anti-Semitic tropes about Jews controlling politics through money and having dual loyalty.

The second comment prompted a heated debate among the House Democratic Caucus about how to respond, eventually settled with a vote on a resolution that broadly condemned hate in many forms.

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With AIPAC’s annual conference coming just weeks after the Omar controversy, Democratic presence at the conference is being closely watched for signs of party divisions.

During his speech, Hoyer also strongly backed a bill introduced by Reps. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerTrump adviser presses House investigators to make Bezos testify Nadler demands answers from Barr on 'new channel' for receiving Ukraine info from Giuliani Trump predicts Ocasio-Cortez will launch primary bid against Schumer MORE (D-N.Y.) and Brad SchneiderBradley (Brad) Scott SchneiderHarris, Castro introduce resolution condemning Trump aide Stephen Miller Palestinians face shrinking options with Trump peace plan Illinois lawmaker latest to endorse Biden for president MORE (D-Ill.) rejecting the global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel.

"Together, we will defeat BDS because at its core, it is un-American," he said to applause.

Hoyer received a standing ovation as he wrapped up his speech and delivered another passionate defense of the U.S.-Israeli alliance.

“Yes, we stand with Israel because we stand for America’s security. Yes, we stand with Israel because we stand for freedom. Yes, we stand with Israel because we reject bigotry and prejudice. Yes, we stand with Israel because we abhor the violence directed throughout the millennia at our Jewish brothers and sisters. Yes, we stand with Israel because we respect their courage, their resilience, their refusal to be forced out of the land of their ancestors,” Hoyer said, his voice increasing in intensity with each sentence. “Yes, we stand with Israel."