Anti-Israel voices boost antisemitism and cannot be allowed in the Democratic Party, Jewish Democrats in the US House of Representatives said after Rep. Pramila Jayapal called Israel a “racist” state.
The members of Congress called Jayapal’s remark “unacceptable” and said they appreciate her retraction.
“We will never allow anti-Zionist voices that embolden antisemitism to hijack the Democratic Party and country,” they warned.
The statement, which has yet to be released, was authored by Reps. Josh Gottheimer, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Greg Landsman, Brad Schneider, Dean Phillips, Jared Moskowitz and Kathy Manning. They are working to gather additional signatures.
The lawmakers drafted the letter after Jayapal spoke at the progressive Netroots Nation conference on Saturday, saying: “I want you to know that we have been fighting to make it clear that Israel is a racist state, that the Palestinian people deserve self-determination and autonomy, that the dream of a two-state solution is slipping away from us,”
The following day, Jayapal changed course, releasing a statement saying: “I do not believe the idea of Israel as a nation is racist.”
However, she added, "Netanyahu’s extreme right-wing government has engaged in discriminatory and outright racist policies and that there are extreme racists driving that policy within the leadership of the current government."
Jewish Congress members slam Jayapal for calling Israel a racist nation
The Jewish members of Congress slammed “extremist views from groups aligned with either party” seeking “to rewrite history and question the Jewish State’s right to exist, or our historic bipartisan relationship. Such attempts “will never succeed in Congress,” they said.
“Israel remains the only vibrant, progressive, and inclusive democracy in the region,” the July 16 draft reads. “Arab parties serve in the Knesset, women serve at the highest levels of the military, and the country remains an oasis for LGBTQ+ people in a region hostile toward the community. Pluralism flourishes in Israel.”
In addition, they wrote that “Israel is the legitimate homeland of the Jewish people and efforts to delegitimize and demonize it are not only dangerous and antisemitic, but they also undermine America’s national security.” They mentioned US-Israel cooperation on defense and intelligence and highlighted the fight against terrorism.
The members of Congress also said that they “remain committed to peace between Israel and the Palestinians to establish two states that exist side-by-side in peace, prosperity, and mutual security.”
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted that “hostile rhetoric can spawn hateful actions, so we would hope that an elected official at [Jayapal’s] level would choose her words far more carefully. While we vehemently disagree with many of Rep. Jayapal’s characterizations of Israel and its policies, we share her hope of an ultimate two-state solution to the conflict.”
Jayapal told CNN last week that she may not attend President Isaac Herzog’s speech before both houses of Congress, set for Wednesday. Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Jamaal Bowman of New York, and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota said they would be boycotting Herzog’s address.
“I don’t think I am. I haven’t fully decided,” Jayapal said. “I think this is not a good time for that to happen.”