Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) used part of his speech at a conference hosted by a pro-Israel lobbying group to compare a member of his own party to President Donald Trump, according to a report in HuffPost. In his speech to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference, Schumer was critical of remarks recently made by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) when she suggested that U.S. politicians’ support of policies favored by Israel is driven by campaign donations. The Senator then compared Omar’s statements to remarks made by Trump following the 2017 white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia. in which Trump said there were “good people on both sides” despite an alleged neo-Nazi appearing to deliberately strike a counter-protester with his car, killing her.
“When someone looks at a neo-Nazi rally and sees some ‘very fine people’ among its company, we must call it out. When someone suggests money drives support for Israel, we must call it out,” Schumer said.
Rep. Omar was accused in January of promoting anti-Semitic tropes when she described lawmakers who support AIPAC positions as being “all about the Benjamins,” and for suggesting that some lawmakers may have “dual loyalty” in that they support Israel’s positions as much or more than they support stances that are favorable to the U.S. Omar apologized and the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives crafted a resolution condemning anti-Semitic hate speech.
However, following significant pushback from left-leaning House members, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus who questioned why there wasn’t any such resolution in response to allegedly racist and anti-Islamic comments by President Donald Trump and other lawmakers, the language was changed to include condemnation for all kinds of hate speech.
But Schumer wasn’t the only Democrat AIPAC attendee who appeared to criticize Omar, even if not by name. House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) condemned the “dual loyalty” trope, and Sen. Ted Deutch of Florida criticized Omar directly, calling her January tweets an “attack.”
Numerous Democrat candidates for the presidential nomination chose not to attend the conference, including Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)
But some of those who did attend had some sharp words for critics on the right as well as for Omar. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey was critical of the depiction of Democrats as “Jew haters,” referring to a comment made by the president, and Schumer also criticized those who only call out their political opponents for anti-Semitism, echoing the words of Sen. Deutch of Florida.
“It’s really important that we be careful not to try and use the U.S.-Israel relationship for political gain,” Deutch said.