U.S. House passes resolution saying Israel is not ‘a racist state’

The U.S. House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed a resolution saying that Israel is not a “racist state,” contradicting the assessment of multiple human rights organisations.

The resolution passed last night in a 412-9 vote, with nine Democrats, including Representatives Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Jamaal Bowman, Summer Lee, Cori Bush, Ayanna Pressley, Andre Carson and Delia Ramirez voting against the motion.

The resolution said: “the State of Israel is not a racist or apartheid state” and rejects “all forms of antisemitism and xenophobia, and the United States will always be a staunch partner and supporter of Israel.”

Rashida Tlaib, a Democratic Congresswoman from Michigan, was the sole member to speak out against the resolution on the House floor.

“I am the only Palestinian American serving in Congress and I have family members all throughout the West Bank — what many people call the illegally occupied territories,” Tlaib said.

“But we’re here again reaffirming Congress’s support for apartheid, policing the words of women of colour who dare to speak up about truths, about oppression. It’s just not what we should be doing here in Congress.”

The vote came days after Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal, who opposes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies, criticised Israel as she was addressing pro-Palestine protesters in Chicago on Saturday.

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“Hey guys, can I say something? Can I say something as somebody that’s been in the streets and has participated in a lot of demonstrations?” Jayapal said. “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.”

On Sunday, Jayapal released a lengthy statement to address and clarify her remarks while also defending the underlying sentiment behind them. She even apologised to those who may have been hurt by her remarks.

On Tuesday, Jayapal voted “yes” for the resolution, which she said “had clear political motivations.”

“I will not play into Republicans’ political games of distraction that they clearly prefer over doing the work of real legislating to help working families and poor people across our country,” she wrote on Twitter.

Rashida Tlaib. Editorial credit: Phil Pasquini / Shutterstock.com

The resolution came hours after President Joe Biden’s meeting with Israeli President Isaac Herzog at the White House. Herzog, who arrived in Washington on Tuesday, will deliver a joint address to Congress today.

The speech will be boycotted by some Democrats, including prominent lawmakers Tlaib, the first Palestinian American female lawmaker in Congress, Ocasio-Cortez and Omar.

In the last few years Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Israeli human rights organization B’tselem have each issued reports on Israeli apartheid.

In a damning report Amnesty said that Israeli authorities must be held accountable for committing the crime of apartheid against Palestinians.

Their investigation detailed how Israel enforces a system of oppression and domination against the Palestinian people wherever it has control over their rights. This includes Palestinians living in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), as well as displaced refugees in other countries.

The report, Israel’s Apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime against Humanity, sets out how massive seizures of Palestinian land and property, unlawful killings, forcible transfer, drastic movement restrictions, and the denial of nationality and citizenship to Palestinians are all components of a system which amounts to apartheid under international law.

Whether they live in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, or Israel itself, Amnesty said Palestinians are treated as an inferior racial group and systematically deprived of their rights.

Amnesty International called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to consider the crime of apartheid in its current investigation in the OPT and calls on all states to exercise universal jurisdiction to bring perpetrators of apartheid crimes to justice.

Israel labelled the report “false, biased, and antisemitic.”



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