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Steny Hoyer Dismisses Bernie Sanders’ ‘Incorrect’ Defense of Omar: ‘This is About Stereotypes’

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) hit back at Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on MSNBC Thursday, after Sanders released a statement defending Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for her comments about Israel, in which he said anti-Semitism should not be conflated with criticism of Israel’s government. House Democrats had planned to vote on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism Thursday, but after much internal debate, the resolution was revised to include all forms of hate. 

Sanders’ statement reads:

Anti-Semitism is a hateful and dangerous ideology which must be vigorously opposed in the United States and around the world. We must not, however, equate anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of the right-wing, Netanyahu government in Israel. Rather, we must develop an even-handed Middle East policy which brings Israelis and Palestinians together for a lasting peace. What I fear is going on in the House right now is an effort to target Congresswoman Omar as a way of stifling that debate.

Speaking to MSNBC’s Ali Velshi, Hoyer shot back at Sanders’ statement.

“I think that’s incorrect,” Hoyer said. “This is not about debate. This is about stereotypes. This is about language that has been used for a very long period of time to demean and discriminate against Jews,” said Hoyer, pointing out the change to Congress’s resolution to a broader condemnation.

“I disagree with Senator Sanders that this is about free speech,” Hoyer continued. The congressman added he thinks the resolution is not about limiting members of Congress from debating freely about policy, but about avoiding rhetoric “that stokes prejudice, bigotry, and hatred.”

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