House Vote on Pro-Israel Measure Will Put Democrats on Record Regarding Anti-Semitism

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

Democrats seem to have a hard time not saying the quiet part out loud. In one recent example, Vice President Kamala Harris last Friday stated that we must “reduce population,” instead of “reduce pollution,” in order to combat climate change. Freudian slip, you be the judge. Then over the weekend, House Progressive Caucus chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) stated that Israel was “a racist state.” The blowback was apparently so bad that she then had to “clarify” her remarks and apologize for them. We have heard plenty of antisemitic comments from the usual Democrat suspects in the House. Many of them came when Democrats were in the majority, and that majority seem to give them enough hutzpah to spew them out loud. But now Republicans are in charge, and they have had enough.

On Monday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) demanded that Democrat leadership reign in their membership. Fortunately, however, Republicans are not waiting around for Democrats to do something about it. In a response to Jayapal’s remarks, House GOP members are now planning a vote this week that will denounce antisemitism and defend Israel. The one-page resolution, drawn up by Rep. August Pfluger (R-TX), states emphatically that Israel is not a “racist or apartheid state.” The resolution goes on to reject “all forms of antisemitism and xenophobia,” and declares the U.S. “will always be a staunch partner and supporter of Israel.” The vote is expected to be a rare example of bipartisanship. but will it put those usual suspects on record and in the spotlight for their views once and for all?

The day after she made the remarks, Jayapal put out a statement saying she was specifically talking about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. Her colleagues have not always bothered to do so, including two of the most outspoken Democrat Members of Congress, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI). Omar famously implied that Israel was bribing American lawmakers when she tweeted, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.” She also tweeted in 2012 that, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” Also, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), who has called Israel “an apartheid government,” and in May, attempted to hold a “Nakba” event, which loosely translates to “catastrophe,” and mourns the founding of Israel.

The answer as to whose apparent views will be in the spotlight can be found in those who have come out in support of the measure, which comes prior to Wednesday’s scheduled address to a joint session of Congress by Israeli President Isaac Herzog, and those who’ve stated they will not be attending the speech. Rep. Greg Landsman (D-OH) is Jewish, and said, “I’ll be supportive. Blaming Israel for everything doesn’t work.” Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) said that she is “of course” voting for the measure. She added, “It’s three very simple, very straightforward clauses I agree with.” Squad members who have announced they will be boycotting the speech include Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Omar, Tlaib, Cori Bush (D-MO), and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY).

McCarthy has challenged House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries to take some action regarding his members’ past remarks, but Jeffries himself is not in a good position to claim the high road. His uncle, Leonard Jeffries, a former professor at City College of New York, made comments in the early nineties referring to “rich Jews” participating in the slave trade, and Jewish Hollywood executives plotting to denigrate black actors in films. While a student, Hakeem Jeffries invited his uncle to speak at a Black Student Union event of which the younger Jeffries was an executive board member.

The Democrat party had an antisemitic problem long before Pramila Jayapal made her comments. The vote on this pro-Israel antisemitic measure may be just the thing to gauge just how bad it is.


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