The Senate passed a resolution on July 25 affirming that the U.S. Congress stands with Israel and condemns anti-Semitism—a week after Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) referred to the Middle Eastern country as “a racist state.”
The resolution passed via unanimous consent; therefore, there was no recorded vote.
“I’m pleased that a bipartisan group of my colleagues supported this resolution upholding that Israel is not a racist state, that Congress rejects any form of antisemitism, and that America will always be a staunch supporter of Israel,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who introduced the resolution in the Senate, wrote in a July 26 statement. “It is unfortunate that Democrat attacks on Israel necessitated Congress passing this legislation.”
The resolution, which was introduced in the House by Rep. August Pfluger (R-Texas), was approved by that chamber, 412–9–1, on July 18.
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 (D-Minn.) voted “present.”
The resolution states that Congress believes that “the state of Israel is not a racist or apartheid state,” 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 measure came in response to Ms. Jayapal, chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), calling Israel a “racist state” ahead of a state visit by Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
“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 isn’t 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,” Ms. Jayapal said. “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 Ms. Jayapal’s initial claim while not calling out Ms. 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.
“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 disagree, it reiterated its commitment to ensuring bipartisan support for the Jewish state.
Additionally, a statement rebuking Ms. Jayapal by name had been signed by 43 House Democrats, including nine in the CPC, as of July 16.
“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,” the members wrote.
“We are deeply concerned about Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s unacceptable comments regarding our historic, democratic ally Israel, and we appreciate her retraction.”
‘Israel Is Critical to Our Fight Against Terror’
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 anti-Semitism under the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition, 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.”
Mr. Herzog addressed a joint session of Congress on July 19. During his address, he called out anti-Semitism in all its forms, distinguishing between criticism and demonization of the Jewish state.
From The Epoch Times