House to vote on GOP resolution declaring ‘Israel is not a racist or apartheid state’ and condemning antisemitism 

The resolution, expected to receive bipartisan support, comes in response to remarks by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) calling Israel a ‘racist state’ over the weekend

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 15: Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) attends a news conference about the American Dream and Promise Act on Capitol Hill on June 15, 2023 in Washington, DC.

The House will vote on Tuesday on a resolution introduced on Monday by House Republicans rejecting claims that Israel is racist or an apartheid state, condemning antisemitism and declaring support for Israel.

While the text of the legislation itself does not mention Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) by name, the brief, eight-line resolution comes in response to comments over the weekend by the congresswoman describing Israel as a “racist state.”

The resolution was introduced by Reps. August Pfluger (R-TX), alongside the two Jewish Republicans in the House, Reps. David Kustoff (R-TN) and Max Miller (R-OH). House Republican leadership fast-tracked the legislation to a vote on Tuesday, ahead of Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.

In statements on the legislation, its sponsors specifically called out Jayapal and other Democrats critical of Israel.

“Representatives Pramila Jayapal, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar’s repeated comments denigrating Israel are unacceptable and disgusting,” Pfluger said in a statement. “I am proud to introduce this resolution ensuring all Americans know where their Representatives stand when it comes to supporting Israel and our Jewish communities.”

Kustoff called Jayapal’s comments “repulsive and repugnant” with “no place in the hall of Congress, nor in our national conversation.”

Miller, who sponsored the legislation earlier this year that expelled Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that “Congresswoman Jayapal can try to take back her comments, but her intent was crystal clear—and absolutely deplorable… There is no place for this type of rhetoric in the House.”

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said the legislation comes “in light of the recent rise in anti-Semitic rhetoric we’ve seen from leading figures in the Democrat Party,” without referencing Jayapal, and noted that he’s “proud to schedule this bill ahead of Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s visit.”

The resolution is expected  to receive wide bipartisan support. Democratic leaders in the House quickly distanced themselves from Jayapal’s comment. On Monday, 43 House Democrats joined a statement led by pro-Israel Jewish Democrats disavowing Jayapal’s comments and declaring support for Israel.

Signatories to that statement include nine members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which Jayapal leads: Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-FL), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Darren Soto (D-FL), Dan Goldman (D-NY), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Mike Levin (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Grace Napolitano (D-CA). Additional progressive lawmakers have also distanced themselves from Jayapal’s remarks.

At the same time, some on the left have dismissed the legislation.

“This is not a pro-Israel resolution. It’s a cynical ploy so that Republicans can continue to waive their arms and yell about Israel and antisemitism while not doing anything to make life better for Israelis, much less even acknowledging that Palestinians exist,” Americans for Peace Now CEO Hadar Susskind said in a tweet. “It’s garbage.”

J Street is encouraging members to vote yes on the resolution, while at the same time decrying that U.S.-Israel relationship and antisemitism “are being continually turned into partisan political footballs,” spokesperson Logan Bayroff said.

“We are therefore are also encouraging Members of Congress to call on GOP House Leadership to stop looking to score cheap political points – and to focus instead on defending the democratic values at the heart of the U.S.-Israel relationship and addressing the stark realities that continue to push resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ever farther away,” Bayroff continued.

AIPAC and Democratic Majority for Israel are also urging yes votes.

On Monday, Jayapal tweeted out excerpts from a New York Times op-ed by columnist Michelle Goldberg that derided the backlash to her initial comments as a “hysterical overreaction.”

“The rush to condemn her offhand remarks is […] about raising the political price of speaking about Israel forthrightly. […],” the excerpt that Jayapal tweeted read. “It’s easier for Israel’s most stalwart boosters to harp on a critic’s slight misstatement.”

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