Nine Democrats voted against HR 57, “Expressing the sense of Congress supporting the State of Israel”: Jamaal Bowman of New York, Cori Bush of Missouri, Andre Carson of Indiana, Summer Lee of Pennsylvania, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Delia Ramirez of Illinois, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
The resolution passed on Tuesday, with 217 Republican votes and 195 votes from Democrats.
“The State of Israel is not a racist or apartheid state,” says the resolution, introduced by Republican Texas Rep. August Pfluger. “Congress rejects all forms of antisemitism and xenophobia, and the United States will always be a staunch partner and supporter of Israel.”
In a statement following the vote, Pfluger emphasized that “Israel is our most important partner in the Middle East.”
“As Congress welcomes Israeli President [Isaac] Herzog, we affirm that Congress stands with Israel and unequivocally supports our Jewish communities,” he added, referencing the Israeli president’s visit to United States this week. “I am extremely disappointed that Members of the Democrat party refused to vote against antisemitism and affirm that Israel is not a racist state. I would like to thank Senator [Tom] Cotton for his partnership on this effort and encourage the Senate to immediately take up the measure and deliver support from both Houses of Congress.”
Herzog is scheduled to speak at the Capitol on Wednesday.
The move comes after Democratic Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal (who voted yes on the Tuesday resolution) told a group of pro-Palestinian protesters over the weekend: “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.”
Top Democrats in the House of Representatives quickly sought to distance themselves from her remarks, saying in a Sunday statement that “Israel is not a racist state” and emphasizing their strong support for “Israel’s right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people.”
“Government officials come and go,” that statement said. “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.”
“Our commitment to a safe and secure Israel as an invaluable partner, ally and beacon of democracy in the Middle East is ironclad,” the Democrats continued. “We look forward to welcoming Israeli President Isaac Herzog to the United States House of Representatives this week.”
Jayapal apologized for her remarks on Sunday and said that she was responding to a “tense situation,” adding: “I do not believe the idea of Israel as a nation is racist.”
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy pointed out Monday that Democrats have previously come under fire for antisemitism, reminding reporters: “This isn’t the first person in the Democratic conference that has continued to make antisemitic comments.”
He added: “There are a number of them over there. I think if the Democrats want to believe that they do not have a conference that continues to make antisemitic remarks, they need to do something about it.”
Despite the backlash against Jayapal’s comment, and her apology, Tlaib denounced the pro-Israel resolution on Tuesday.
“Israel is an apartheid state,” she insisted. “Don’t forget: this body, this Congress, supported the South African apartheid regime, and it was bipartisan as well.”
And Omar, in an apparent show of support for Jayapal, retweeted her colleague’s apology with the remark: “We spend too much time policing the language of Black and brown women who speak out against oppression and not enough time ending the oppression of Black and brown people.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre appeared confused when asked by a reporter on Tuesday if President Joe Biden had addressed Jayapal’s remarks. She noted that Biden has been “very clear” that the United States and Israel share a “special bond.”
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