Under fire from fellow Democrats, congresswoman ‘clarifies’ her claim that ‘Israel is racist’

Chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus walks back accusation that Israel is a racist country – while continuing to accuse Israel’s government of being racist.

By World Israel News Staff

A Democratic lawmaker partially walked back her claims that Israel is a racist country over the weekend, after coming under fire from senior Democrats.

Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told “Free Palestine” protesters at the 2023 Netroots Nation Conference in Chicago on Saturday that she and other critics of the Jewish state “have been fighting to make it clear that Israel is a racist state.”

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

“While you may have arguments with whether or not some of us onstage are fighting hard enough, I do want you to know that there is an organized opposition on the other side, and it isn’t the people that are on this stage.”

The comments came just days before Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s scheduled address before a joint session of Congress, slated for Wednesday.

The accusation sparked sharp criticism not only from Republicans, but also the congressional Democratic leadership.

Republican Senator Rick Scott (FL) excoriated Jayapal over her comments, tweeting: “This is truly disgusting, especially coming from a member of Congress.”

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Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., Whip Katherine Clark, D-Mass. and Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., issued a statement, saying, “Israel is not a racist state,” without mentioning Jayapal by name.

“Certainly, there are individual members of the current Israeli governing coalition with whom we strongly disagree,” the leaders added. “Government officials come and go. The special relationship between the United States and Israel will endure.”

On Sunday, Jayapal issued a statement both apologizing for and clarifying her comments on Saturday.

While Jayapal defended “the idea of Israel as a nation,” she insisted that its current government is engaged in racism.

“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.”

“It is in that spirit that I offer my apologies to those who I have hurt with my words, and offer this clarification.”

Even after her statement clarifying her comments, senior Democrats distanced themselves from Jayapal.

“Israel is not a racist state,” top House Democrats, including Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (NY), House Democratic Caucus chairman Pete Aguilar (CA), and Vice Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus Ted Lieu (CA) said in a joint statement Sunday night.

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“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.”

“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.”

“Certainly, there are individual members of the current Israeli governing coalition with whom we strongly disagree. That is also the case with respect to some on the other side of the aisle who we serve with in the United States Congress.

“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.”