MOSHE HILL OPINION COLUMNS JULY 20 2023
At Netroots Nation, one of the largest progressive political conventions in the country, the most leftwing member of Congress was protested because she wasn’t radical enough on Israel. When trying to appease the crowd, Pramila Jayapal said the quiet part out loud, and what many of her colleagues in the Democratic Party believe: that Israel is a “racist state.”
To ensure that there are no accusations of taking her statement out of context, this is the entirety of her message to the “Free Palestine” crowd, who were interrupting the panel and waving Palestinian flags: “Guys, can I say something as someone who has been in the streets and has participated in a lot of demonstrations. 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. And I want you to know that you may have arguments with whether or not some of us on stage are fighting hard enough; I want you to know there is an organized opposition on the other side, and it isn’t the people on this stage.”
The context is important because, afterwards, her Democratic colleagues, who have more political sense than she does, called her out, so she issued the boilerplate apology, claiming she didn’t mean it. That is a lie. She meant every word, and you can tell based on the entirety of her statement. She didn’t say off the cuff that Israel is a racist state. She said she is “fighting” to “make it clear” that Israel is a racist state. Her beliefs are already set in stone. She is literally trying to convince the “organized opposition,” aka Democrats who are not already on board with the notion that Israel is a racist state, that she and those who stand with her on that stage, are correct.
The “Vote Blue no matter who” crowd will dismiss this, as well, maybe even make the claim that Jayapal is one voice, maybe a part of a small crowd, but is not indicative of a large swathe of the Democratic Party. That is also a lie. Jayapal is the Chair of the Progressive Caucus, the largest Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives, with 101 members. That membership includes New York Democrats who claim to be pro-Israel, like Grace Meng, Jerry Nadler, and Ritchie Torres. The second in command of that caucus? Ilhan Omar.
Ilhan Omar hates Israel reflexively. When she was informed that Israeli President Isaac Herzog was going to speak to Congress in honor of Israel’s 75th anniversary, she immediately boycotted. “There is no way in hell I am attending,” she said. This is not because she has policy differences with Herzog. Politically, Herzog is far more aligned with what the Left in America and Israel are aiming for than he is with Netanyahu. This is because, on reflex, Omar hates Israel. Omar has started a trend of boycotting Herzog’s address. So far, Cori Bush, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Jamaal Bowman have all said they would boycott.
Jayapal’s half-baked “apology” allows Israel-hating organizations and people the shield in which to defend her when she is rightfully attacked for her hatred. “I do not believe the idea of Israel as a nation is racist,” she wrote. “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.” J Street wasted no time thanking Jayapal on Twitter, which she promptly retweeted to show to anyone foolish enough to believe her that she doesn’t hate Jews – there are some good ones.
Within 24 hours, if it hasn’t already, the media will forget that this incident ever happened. No one will ask Jayapal, or any of her Progressive friends, why she doesn’t believe Israel, which was founded on the Zionist belief of a Jewish state in the historical homeland of the Jewish people, isn’t racist. She clearly does. This is not about Netanyahu or Smotrich or Ben-Gvir; it’s about David Ben-Gurion and Theodor Herzl. Unless there is significant pushback on this incredibly important issue, there will be no change in the Progressive Caucus, no censure on the floor of the House, nothing. Jayapal will get away with this flagrant Israel- and Jew-hatred, and it will be forgotten.
Progressives are telling everyone that they hate Israel. It’s far past time to believe them.