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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va) tweeted this out from last night’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee: @GOPLeader “To all of our Christian brothers and sisters who are with us, we salute you and we thank you for standing with Israel #aipac2013.”
The tweet jumped off the page because it is suggesting quite explicitly that Jewish Americans have a greater or more intrinsic interest in the fate of Israel than other Americans do. To some extent, it was a grand conflating of Israel and Judaism by America’s top Jewish elected official.
Meanwhile, a few short weeks ago, what seemed like the entirety of the GOP was in an outcry over Chuck Hagel’s comment in a 2006 interview that “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here.” Hagel apologized, saying that he should have said “pro-Israel lobby,” and pointed out that this was the only time he had used the “pro-Jewish” wording. Hagel also walked back the rest of the comment, saying that he should have said “influences” rather than “intimidates.” Here's a short Washington Post piece on the Hagel comments.
It’s hard to know exactly how much of the GOP outrage was genuine and how much was part of its failed attempt to trump up an argument against Hagel’s candidacy. But an underlying issue was that Israel and the Jewish religion were two separate things, and that suggesting anything else (or using a phrase once in your life that could have been construed as such) was anti-Semitic.
But it seems like Cantor did exactly the same thing last night. Looking forward to the calls for an apology from his fellow Republicans.