Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, a three-time representative of Texas’s 16th congressional district and Democratic Party presidential hopeful, denounced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday during an event at Keene State College in New Hampshire.
O’Rourke was asked whether or not he took donations from supporters of Israel. He denied such a claim and then went on to bash the prime minister.
“Right now, we don’t have the best negotiating partners on either side,” O’Rourke began. “We have a prime minister in Israel who has openly sided with racists – who in a previous election warned that the Arabs were coming to the polls.
“On the Palestinian side, you have an ineffectual leader, Mahmoud Abbas, who has not been very effective in bringing his side to the table either,” O’Rourke said.
Beto taking the gloves off against Bibi... pic.twitter.com/QJascMyILA— They call me Mr. Kornbluh (@jacobkornbluh) March 20, 2019
O’Rourke was referring to Netanyahu’s recent move to get the Otzma Yehudit or “Jewish Power” Party into the Knesset. The party leaders are proud disciples of Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose party was banned from running for the Knesset in 1988 on grounds of racism.
Earlier this week, the High Court of Justice determined that Otzma Party leader Michael Ben-Ari could not run for Knesset.
On Wednesday, O’Rourke repeated the statement at another event when asked about support for boycotts of Israel, according to The Washington Post.
At the college event, O’Rourke was asked about rumors that he had taken “pro-Israel lobbyist money” during his failed 2018 Senate run. According to a report by the Texas Tribune, O’Rourke said he did not take any money from political action committees, but that the left-leaning J Street lobby had helped solicit some $170,000 in individual donations to his campaign.
The congressman had traveled to Israel in 2015 with J Street and visited the West Bank.
He continues to have a “Beto O’Rourke PAC Page” on the J Street website.
Funding of politicians by pro-Israel support groups has been a hot topic in the last two months, since Congresswoman Ilhan Omar made her Twitter comment that US support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins,” referring to $100 bills, and suggested that AIPAC money is behind American support for the Jewish state.
She has since apologized for that statement.