Pramila Jayapal, Israel and the Democratic Party

Pramila Jayapal speaking in Seattle, 2015. Photo: Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the Democrat from Washington state,  set off a small firestorm when she told the truth this past weekend. Here are her ‘offending’ words: “I want you to know that we have been fighting to make it clear that Israel is a racist state.” In response, what passes for Democratic leadership in Congress issued this statement:

Israel is not a racist state,” said House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Reps. Katherine Clark, Pete Aguilar and Ted Lieu in a joint statement that did not mention Jayapal by name.”

We all know, of course, that Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem and other human-rights organizations[i] have documented in great detail how Israel is an apartheid (read: racist) state. That is an obvious fact for anyone who follows news of the Middle East. So why do the esteemed Democratic ‘leaders’ referenced above deny this fact? Well, there may be a reason.

During the 2021-2022 campaign, ‘Pro-Israel America’ was the top contributor to Jeffries’ campaign, donating $213,450.00. For Representative Katherine Clark, AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) was her second largest donor, contributing $45,033.00. Representative Pete Aguilar received $101,800.00, his second largest donation from AIPAC, and Ted Lieu received $37,700.00 from Pro-Israel America, making that his second largest donor.

Denial of facts is a part of U.S. governance. Think of politicians who say racism no longer exists because a Black man was elected president, despite the ongoing persecution of people of color across the nation. Indigenous people are ignored, unless their land is wanted for oil or oil pipelines, then they are suddenly in the news, despite their ongoing poverty and generational issues based in criminal ‘Indian’ programs throughout U.S. history. Officials still claim the U.S. is a shining beacon on a hill, when it has been at war for most of its history, and most of those wars have been against countries where the democratically-elected government has not suited U.S. imperial desires. The U.S., these officials proclaim, is the ‘land of opportunity’. This is probably true for every white male born into wealth; he will be able to gain an education without crippling debt, buy a house anywhere he wants, shop where he wants and be protected by the racist and violent police force from seeing those unpleasant poor people who are often, due to U.S. policies past and present, people of color.

So why did Congress member Jayapal feel the need to ‘clarify’ her very true and accurate statements? She, of course, needs the support of the Democratic Party for her re-election campaign; after all, she can hardly rely on AIPAC to finance her as it does those who bow down to it.

Congress member Jeffries and the others continued their words with a puzzling statement: “As House Democratic leaders, we strongly support Israel’s right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people.” Rather than countering Ms. Jayapal’s words, this seems to support them. If Israel is a homeland for the Jewish People, and this was enshrined in the nation-state law, which passed in 2018, what then are the rights of the 20% of the people who live in Israel who aren’t Jewish?

In March of 2019, the Israeli prime minister clarified this: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel ‘is not a country of all its citizens,’ hitting back at criticism from an Israeli actress who said the government treats Arabs like they are less worthy.

“’First of all,’ Netanyahu wrote in a Facebook message Sunday morning addressed to actress Rotem Sela, ‘an important correction: Israel is not a country of all its citizens. According to the Nation-State Law that we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish nation – and its alone.’”

Does this not indicate racism? The prime minister himself said that Israel isn’t a country for all its citizens. And Jeffries & Co. are parroting his words.

As indicated above, several major human-rights organizations have documented, in painful detail, how Israel is an apartheid regime. But most U.S. politicians simply ‘reject’ those facts, preferring to avoid risking the very generous campaign contributions, also noted above. They talk instead about Israeli ‘democracy’; not surprising, since the U.S. seems to believe that allowing some eligible people to vote is the entirety of democracy. They talk about ‘shared values’ and, in that, they may be correct. Both nations are violently repressive to minorities, disdain international law and take no accountability for their war crimes and crimes against humanity. Neither country will allow any independent entity to investigate accusations against it.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog, basically a figurehead in that country, will address Congress on July 19. Like India’s brutal, racist Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his remarks will probably be interrupted repeatedly by standing ovations from his fawning audience. Herzog was invited to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the founding of Apartheid Israel. As the enraptured Congress members listen to his glowing words about Israel, there will be no acknowledgement that the establishment of Israel meant the removal of over 750,000 Palestinians from their homes, and the complete destruction – including homes, mosques, schools, churches, hospitals, business, etc. – of more than 500 Palestinian villages, places where Palestinian families had lived for countless generations. There will be no discussion of the fact that these dispossessed Palestinians had no voice in the decision that evicted them, and were given no recompense for their losses. While Israel and the U.S. Congress celebrate this ‘victory’, Palestinians will commemorate the ‘Nakba’, or catastrophe.

Jayapal must continue to speak loudly and clearly for Palestinian rights, and not be intimidated by the Zionists in Congress. Her words, spoken only days ago, are the truth. There is an old cliché that says ‘the truth hurts’. That is sometimes true, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s true.


[i] See also and,committed%20by%20Israel%20against%20Palestinians.

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Propaganda, Lies and False Flags: How the U.S. Justifies its Wars.