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Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal tries to walk back anti-Israel remarks amid backlash
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal tries to walk back anti-Israel remarks amid backlash

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, attacked Israel during a leftist conference in Chicago over the weekend, prompting significant backlash from Republicans and Democrats alike.
The progressive wing of the Democratic Party comprises members who have historically had trouble containing their hostility toward Israel.

For instance, prior to taking office, Rep. Ilhan Omar (Minn.) tweeted in 2012, "Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel."

Not much has changed since she took office, as reflected by her statement last week, when Omar indicated there is "no way in hell" she would attend Israeli President Isaac Herzog's speech to Congress on July 19.

Jayapal, Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), and other progressive Democrats have similarly refused to attend the speech.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) claimed in 2021 that Israel was "promoting racism and dehumanization" under an "apartheid system."

Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) has taken issue with the suggestion that Israel has a right to defend itself from Hamas' terror attacks.

The latest of many similar outbursts, which have proven embarrassing for the purported party of inclusivity and anti-racism, took place Saturday at the annual Netroots Nation conference where Jayapal gave a keynote along with Omar.
Anti-Israel protesters waving Palestinian colors interrupted the corresponding panel, prompting Jayapal to walk to the stage's edge. Instead of rebuking those hijacking the event, Jayapal championed their resentments.

"Can I say something as somebody that's been in the streets and has participated in a lot of demonstrations?" said Jayapal. "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, that it does not even feel possible."

Following her remarks at the leftist conference, Jayapal was met with a flurry of denunciations online.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) called the congresswoman "despicable," suggesting her claim was "truly disgusting, especially coming from a member of Congress."

Bryan Leib, the executive director of the Combat Antisemitism Everywhere PAC, wrote, "Jayapal has been spreading lies about Israel for years. These comments are nothing new, but they went unchecked under the leadership of the former @SpeakerPelosi. It's time for @SpeakerMcCarthy to take action. Censure!"

AIPAC noted, "Israel is a U.S. ally with an open, free and diverse society comprised of Jews, Muslims, Christians and people from across the world who vote and participate in its democracy as equal citizens. @RepJayapal should be embracing our democratic ally as a model, not demonizing it."

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Democratic Whip Katherine Clark, Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar, and Vice Chair Ted Lieu issued a statement Sunday, stressing, "Israel is not a racist state."

Although the statement did not mention Jayapal by name, the Democratic leadership noted, "Government officials come and go. The special relationship between the United States and Israel will endure. We are determined to make sure support for Israel in the Congress remains strongly bipartisan."

Jayapal, whose term won't end until 2025, issued a statement Sunday to "clarify" her previous remarks.

"Words do matter and so it is important that I clarify my statement. I do not believe the idea of Israel as a nation is racist. 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," wrote the leftist congresswoman.

"Many policies of the current Israeli government, including rampant settlement expansion, make it extremely difficult for Palestinians who simply want the same rights as their Israeli neighbors to believe such a solution is possible," added Jayapal.

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Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News.
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