Rep. Pramila Jayapal Retracted Comment Has Landed Her In Hot Water
In an unprecedented move, more than 40 House Democrats penned a statement Monday night lambasting fellow Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal's weekend comments that Israel is a “r***** state.”
The rebuke comes after Jayapal, D-Wash., has since retracted her statement, but not before drawing sharp criticism from lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-NJ, authored the letter, which was signed by 42 other Members before its release Monday morning.
“Israel is the legitimate homeland of the Jewish people and efforts to delegitimize and demonize it are not only dangerous and antisemitic, but they also undermine America’s national security," the 43 signatories declared in the statement. “Israel is critical to our fight against terror, and our defense and intelligence collaboration continues to strengthen our leadership in the world. Israel remains our greatest partner for peace in the Middle East.”
The letter also called out Jayapal by name and thanked her for her subsequent retraction.
"We are deeply concerned about Representative Pramila Jayapal’s unacceptable comments regarding our historic, democratic ally Israel, and we appreciate her retraction," they wrote.
The lawmakers painted a picture of a progressive state of Israel and praised the country for its embracement of pluralism.
"Pluralism flourishes in Israel," they expressed in the letter. "Arab parties serve in the Knesset, women serve at the highest levels of the military, and the country remains an oasis for LGBTQ+ people in a region hostile toward the community.”
The signatories ultimately made clear their stance on the U.S.-Israel relationship.
"We will never allow anti-Zionist voices that embolden antisemitism to undermine and disrupt the strongly bipartisan consensus supporting the U.S.-Israel relationship that has existed for decades,” they added.
Jayapal made the remark about Israel during an appearance at the Netroots Nation Conference in Chicago on Saturday. She retracted it Sunday in a statement posted on Twitter, in which she emphasized that she doesn’t “believe the idea of Israel as a nation is r*****," but has issues with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies.
“Words do matter and so it is important that I clarify my statement,” she wrote in the post.
In addition to Gottheimer, the letter was signed by Jimmy Panetta (CA-19), Jim Costa (CA-21), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Grace Napolitano (CA-31), Brad Sherman (CA-32), Lou Correa (CA-46), Mike Levin (CA-49), Scott Peters (CA-50), Juan Vargas (CA-52), Darren Soto (FL-9), Kathy Castor (FL-14), Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (FL-20), Jared Moskowitz (FL-23), Frederica Wilson (FL-24), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-25), Ed Case (HI-1), Brad Schneider (IL-10), Seth Moulton (MA-6), Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-2), David Trone (MD-6), Jared Golden (ME-2), Hillary Scholten (MI-3), Haley Stevens (MI-11), Angie Craig (MN-2), Dean Phillips (MN-3), Don Davis (NC-1), Kathy Manning (NC-6), Wiley Nickel (NC-13), Jeff Jackson (NC-14), Chris Pappas (NH-1), Annie Kuster (NH-2), Don Norcross (NJ-1), Rob Menendez (NJ-8), Susie Lee (NV-3), Dan Goldman (NY-10), Greg Landsman (OH-1), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Marc Veasey (TX-33), Abigail Spanberger (VA-7), Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-3), Derek Kilmer (WA-6) and Marilyn Strickland (WA-10).
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jefferies and other leaders have expressed solidarity with Israel in a separate statement. It remains to be seen if the public rebuke of Jayapal will help to quell the divide among Democratic lawmakers.