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House Wastes No Time Crafting Pro-Israel Resolution After Jayapal Criticism

The resolution outright denies Israeli apartheid.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal attends a news conference on Capitol Hill on June 15, 2023, in Washington, D.C.

The House is set to vote on a resolution today pledging the U.S.’s allegiance to Israel in perpetuity and outright denying Israel’s human rights violations, seemingly in order to isolate and punish Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington) over a comment criticizing the state over the weekend.

The one-page resolution, introduced by Rep. August Pfluger (R-Texas), states that “Israel is not a racist or apartheid state,” denying Israel’s long history of “cleansing” Palestinians through means such as raids and pogroms.

The resolution goes on to claim that “Congress rejects all forms of antisemitism and xenophobia” — an absurd statement conflating criticism of Israeli apartheid with xenophobia, especially from Republicans who employ antisemitism and xenophobia at every turn. It then states that the U.S. “will always be a staunch partner and supporter of Israel,” apparently no matter how many Palestinians Israeli forces kill.

The House is likely to pass the resolution, which comes just days after Jayapal condemned Israel as “a racist state” in a speech over the weekend, with the lawmaker adding that “the Palestinian people deserve self-determination and autonomy.” Tellingly, both Republicans and Democrats alike swiftly harshly criticized Jayapal over daring to raise an objection to a country that has spent decades perpetuating apartheid against Palestinians.

Democrats piled on Jayapal, swiftly organizing multiple statements condemning a member of their own party. “Israel is not a racist state,” House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (New York) said in a joint statement with other Democratic House leaders on Sunday. “Our commitment to a safe and secure Israel as an invaluable partner, ally and beacon of democracy in the Middle East is ironclad.”

The vote and Democratic statements come even after Jayapal walked back her remark on Sunday afternoon. “I do not believe the idea of Israel as a nation is racist,” she said in a statement. “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.”

Republicans, meanwhile, have seemingly jumped at the opportunity to criticize Jayapal and treat her the same way that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) has been treated in recent years over her criticisms of Israel.

“These are just multiple Democrats on multiple times consistently saying antisemitic remarks, and it has got to stop,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California), in a video posted to his Twitter page, conflating criticism of Israeli apartheid with antisemitism, an argument tactic that many Jewish groups have said is disingenuous at best.

The speed at which the House is rushing to reassure Israel of the U.S.’s alliance and punish Jayapal is once again demonstrative of the stronghold that the pro-Israel lobby holds over U.S. politicians, which Jewish leftists have criticized time and again and that lobbyists have even boasted about.

Indeed, Jeffries is a well-established supporter of Israel, having taken five AIPAC-sponsored trips to Israel over his past 10 years in Congress, and with his top campaign contributors being pro-Israel groups. McCarthy, meanwhile, is friendly with far right Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and has spoken at an AIPAC conference.

Politicians are pushing the resolution ahead of Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s visit to the U.S. this week and scheduled address to Congress on Wednesday, which Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota), Cori Bush (D-Missouri) and Jamaal Bowman (D-New York) have said they will be boycotting.

“There is no way in hell I am attending the joint session address from a President whose country has banned me and denied [Palestinian Rep.] Rashida Tlaib the ability to see her grandma,” Omar wrote last week. “Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s address comes on behalf of the most right wing government in Israel’s history, at a time when the government is openly promising to ‘crush’ Palestinian hopes of statehood.”