House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told AIPAC attendees Tuesday morning that Congressional support for Israel was "relentlessly bipartisan" only hours after Israeli bombs and missiles rained down on the Gaza Strip for a third day in a row.
"Israel and America are connected now and forever," said Pelosi. "We will never allow anyone to make Israel a wedge issue."
Pelosi's speech—in which she praised AIPAC's "leadership"—came during a scheduled appearance at the annual conference which celebrates the lobby group's close ties with U.S. lawmakers from both major parties.
The California Democrat spoke after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer addressed the conference on Sunday night and just ahead of remarks by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
While no declared Democratic presidential candidates attended or spoke at the event, this year's conference coincides with a fresh wave of Israeli aerial attacks on the besieged Gaza strip that have increased in frequency and destruction over the last three days.Whether or not the two sides will reach a truce is in question. As journalist Rania Khalek pointed out on Twitter, Israel is demanding a halt to border protests against the occupation, a proposition that seems sure to go nowhere.
"That's insane," said Khalek. "So now Palestinians protesting their ghettoization is a pretext for a brutal Israeli bombing campaign?"
Israel is moving the goalposts for a ceasefire with Gaza, adding a condition that Palestinians stop protest activities at the border. That’s insane. So now Palestinians protesting their ghettoization is a pretext for a brutal Israeli bombing campaign? https://t.co/GM1sPii8Z6— Rania Khalek (@RaniaKhalek) March 26, 2019
Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) may be preparing a land invasion of the territory, according to reporting from Democracy Now!.
It's just part of the ongoing violence Palestinians live with on a daily basis, Gazan scholar and policy analyst Jehad Abusalim told Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez.
"The Palestinian people in Gaza and beyond are victims to years and years of legal and structural violence that have been inflicted on them," said Abusalim. "And this violence that Israel exercises, Palestinians experience on a daily basis."
Palestinians called for the world to act in the face of Israeli attacks on the Occupied Territories.
"The international community cannot remain silent to the Israeli airstrikes on Gaza," said Yousef al-Mahmoud, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, the government of the occupied West Bank.
Pelosi, in her comments, decried the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement—an international grassroots movement aimed at using economic and political pressure to change Israel's treatment of the Palestinians—as "bigoted and dangerous."
"It does not recognize the right of Jewish people to national self determination," Pelosi claimed.
Reaction from progressives to Pelosi's appearance at AIPAC and her comments was critical, and some on the left expressed general disappointment over the Democratic treatment of what they on the left see as a repressive Israel poorly treating the Palestinians.
Schumer's comments, in which he likened Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) to President Donald Trump, came in for disdain from journalist Glenn Greenwald.
Chuck Schumer equating neo-Nazis in Charlottesville to @IlhanMN in front of AIPAC. This, along with Nancy Pelosi (also starring at @AIPAC), is the senior Democrat in Washington. https://t.co/0OQGsIQpKy— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 26, 2019
Emma Vigeland, a presenter with the progressive online news network The Young Turks, was even more succinct in her critique.
"Can't wait until all of the Democrats groveling at AIPAC are primaried out of office," said Vigeland.
Can’t wait until all of the Democrats groveling at AIPAC are primaried out of office.— Emma Vigeland (@EmmaVigeland) March 25, 2019