House Passes Resolution Affirming Support for Israel, Denouncing Antisemitism

Jackson Richman
By Jackson Richman
July 18, 2023Congress
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The House of Representatives passed a resolution on July 18 affirming Congress stands with Israel and condemns antisemitism.

The resolution, introduced by Rep. August Pfluger (R-Texas), passed 412-9-1.

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Delia Ramirez (D-Ill.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Summer Lee (D-Pa.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) voted against it.

Rep. Betty McCollum voted “present.”

The resolution states that Congress believes: “The state of Israel is not a racist or apartheid state,” and that “Congress rejects all forms of antisemitism and xenophobia,” and that “the United States will always be a staunch partner and supporter of Israel.”

The resolution comes in the aftermath of Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), calling Israel a “racist state.”

“As somebody who’s been in the streets and participated in a lot of demonstrations, I want you to know that we have been fighting to make it clear that Israel is a racist state,” Ms. Jayapal told pro-Palestinian demonstrators at the annual conference for the progressive organization Netroots Nation on July 16.

“That the Palestinian people deserve self-determination and autonomy, that the dream of a two-state solution is slipping away from us, that it does not even feel possible,” she continued.

However, Ms. Jayapal later reversed course, saying the Jewish state is not racist, but that its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his government are.

“At a conference, I attempted to defuse a tense situation during a panel where fellow members of Congress were being protested. Words do matter and so it is important that I clarify my statement,” she said in a statement.

“I do not believe the idea of Israel as a nation is racist,” continued Ms. Jayapal. “I do, however, believe that 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.

“I believe it is incumbent on all of us who are striving to make our world a more just and equitable place to call out and condemn these policies and this current Netanyahu government’s role in furthering them.”

Ms. Jayapal reiterated her call for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

She explained that her response at the conference was her “responding to the deep pain and hopelessness that exists for Palestinians and their diaspora communities when it comes to this debate, but I in no way intended to deny the deep pain and hurt of Israelis and their Jewish diaspora community that still reels from the trauma of pogroms and persecution, the Holocaust, and continuing antisemitism and hate violence that is rampant today.”

House Democrat leadership—House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), House Democrat Conference Chair Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), and Vice Chair Ted Lieu (D-Calif.)—rebutted Jayapal’s initial claim while not calling out Jayapal by name or condemning her.

“Israel is not a racist state. As a Jewish and Democratic nation, Israel was founded 75 years ago on the principle of complete equality of social and political rights for all of its citizens irrespective of religion, race or sex, as codified in its Declaration of Independence,” they said in a statement.

“America and Israel have a uniquely special relationship anchored in our shared democratic values and strategic interests,” continued House Democrat leadership.

“As House Democratic leaders, we strongly support Israel’s right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people. We are also firmly committed to a robust two-state solution where Israel and the Palestinian people can live side by side in peace and prosperity.”

While House Democrat leadership went on to acknowledge that there are members of Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition and of Congress with whom they do not agree, it reiterated its commitment to ensuring bipartisan support for the Jewish state.

Additionally, a statement signed by 43 House Democrats, including nine in the CPC, circulated as of July 16 evening rebuking Ms. Jayapal by name.

“Israel remains the only vibrant, progressive, and inclusive democracy in the region. Arab parties serve in the Knesset, women serve at the highest levels of the military, and the country remains an oasis for LGBT people in a region hostile toward the community. Pluralism flourishes in Israel,” wrote the members.

“We are deeply concerned about Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s unacceptable comments regarding our historic, democratic ally Israel, and we appreciate her retraction,” they continued.

The Democrat members went on to stress the meaning of Israel.

“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 wrote.

“Israel is critical to our fight against terror, and our defense and intelligence collaboration continues to strengthen our leadership in the world. Israel remains our greatest partner for peace in the Middle East.

“Any efforts to rewrite history and question the Jewish State’s right to exist, or our historic bipartisan relationship, will never succeed in Congress. We remain committed to peace between Israel and the Palestinians to establish two states that exist side-by-side in peace, prosperity, and mutual security.”

The members vowed to “never allow anti-Zionist voices that embolden antisemitism to undermine and disrupt the strongly bipartisan consensus supporting the U.S.–Israel relationship that has existed for decades.”

Ms. Jayapal’s initial claim falls under examples of antisemitism under the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, which has been adopted by dozens of countries including the United States, in that an instance of hatred toward Jews includes “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

In comments to reporters on July 17, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) blasted Ms. Jayapal.

“This isn’t the first person in the Democratic conference that has continued to make antisemitic comments. We’ve watched what they have continually to do. There are a number of them over there,” he said.

“I think if the Democrats want to believe that they do not have a conference that continues to make antisemitic remarks they need to do something about it because they’ve defended these individuals time and again.

“The only time action has ever been taken is when we had to take the action,” continued Mr. McCarthy, apparently referring to the House removing Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee over her history of making antisemitic comments.

Mr. McCarthy went on to say the onus is on the House Democrat conference to clean up its antisemitism problem.

“I think this is a role for the leader Hakeem to prove that no, they’re not antisemitic and they cannot allow their members to continue to say what they have said in the past,” he said. “I mean, think about what we’re talking about.

“You just raised the one issue of what she called Israel on a week when we have the president of Israel, Mr. Herzog, coming to give a joint session on the 75th anniversary of the creation of Israel, the closest ally.

“Within minutes of Israel becoming a country America recognized it. But now we have leaders in the Democratic Party—she’s not just an elected as a Democrat in their conference, she is a leader of their caucuses and she’s making these comments.”

The incident comes as a joint session of Congress is set to hear from Israeli President Isaac Herzog on July 19.

While Ms. Jayapal has not said whether she will boycott the address, a handful of her fellow progressives—Ms. Omar and Mr. Bowman, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, Ms. Tlaib, Ms. Bush, and Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.)—have said they will.

Mr. Herzog met with President Joe Biden on July 18 at the White House.

From The Epoch Times

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