Letter: Jayapal’s Recent Comments

Dear editor:

I’m writing to provide some background for the situation in which Rep. Jamila Jayapal characterized Israel as a “racist state.” And to comment on media misrepresentation of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

As reported in the New York Times Opinion | The Hysterical Overreaction to Jayapal’s ‘Racist State’ Gaffe – The New York Times (nytimes.com), Jayapal was participating in a panel discussion at the Netroots Nation, a progressive conference taking place in Chicago, when pro-Palestinian activists interrupted the proceedings. They were targeting Rep. Jan Schakowsky who had refused to support a House bill barring American funds from use in Israeli detention of Palestinian children. Jayapal attempted to placate the activists by agreeing that Israel is a “racist state.” She further stated that the Palestinian people deserve self-determination and autonomy and commiserated with them that the dream of a two-state solution is slipping away.

The Times called Jayapal’s statement a “gaffe.” I call the labelling of the activists as being “Pro-Palestinian” an inaccuracy. Most “pro-Palestinian” activists do not care a whit about the suffering of the Palestinians (some of whom have been trapped in refugee limbo for generations; whose leaders have turned down multiple Israeli and US proposals for the establishment of the Palestinian state the leaders claim to want; who’ve seen monies donated for the people’s benefit embezzled by corrupt Palestinian leaders or diverted to efforts to delegitimize Israel in international forums, and to fund attacks on the Jewish state and her people).

Most people called “pro-Palestinian” are more accurately characterized as “anti-Israel.” True supporters of the Palestinian people should be urging Palestinian leaders to begin building the infrastructure required by a viable state and to negotiate with Israel (as the Oslo Accords require) to set secure and recognized borders. Israel would not be detaining Palestinians (of any age) if Palestinians (of nearly all ages) weren’t attacking Israelis. Palestinian leaders can’t be urging children to long for martyrdom (dying for the honor of Allah while attacking and killing Jews) and then claiming that Israelis are evil for defending themselves from those who are trying to kill them.

Toby F. Block
Atlanta, GA

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