Charisma Caucus

Democrat Congressman: Jews Are 'Termites'

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) has said some things during his tenure in Congress that have made jaws drop, but his most recent comments about Israeli settlers in the West Bank are just downright repulsive.

"There has been a steady [stream], almost like termites can get into a residence and eat before you know that you've been eaten up and you fall in on yourself," he said, according to The Washington Free Beacon. "There has been settlement activity that has marched forward with impunity and at an ever-increasing rate to the point where it has become alarming.

"It has come to the point that occupation, with highways that cut through Palestinian land, with walls that go up, with the inability or the restriction, with the illegality of Palestinians being able to travel on those roads and those roads cutting off Palestinian neighborhoods from each other. And then with the building of walls and the building of check points that restrict movement of Palestinians.

"We've gotten to the point where the thought of a Palestinian homeland gets further and further removed from reality.

"You see one home after another being appropriated by Jewish people who come in to claim that land just because somebody did not spend the night there. The home their ancestors lived in for generations becomes an Israeli home and a flag goes up, [but] the Palestinians are barred from flying flags in their own neighborhoods.

"The fact is the Israeli government, which is the most right-wing government ever to exist in the state of Israel in its history, the most right-wing government, you got a guy like Trump who is now the minister of defense in Israel calling the shots on defense."

Johnson said he's not the only member of Congress who feels that way. He was speaking at an event sponsored by the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. That group is one of the leading supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement.

Six years ago, Johnson expressed real concern that the U.S. island territory of Guam could capsize. See the video below.

Pollster James Zogby, who took part in crafting the Democratic Party's 2016 platform, explained how the party wound up with a position statement that is still staunchly pro-Israel. He blames GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson, saying Democrats are afraid of being on the receiving end of his wrath if they adopt an anti-Israel policy.

The Anti-Defamation League demanded Johnson "apologize and retract this offensive, unhelpful characterization" of Jewish settlers via Twitter. Johnson has since tweeted an apology for his comments:

Poor choice of words—apologies for offense. Point is settlement activity continues slowly undermine 2-state solution.

The congressman's office has now issued a more comprehensive statement, saying his "termites" reference was directed at the Israeli policy, not at the people themselves. It called for a change in course that could lead to a "two-state solution":

"The corrosive settlement policies undermine the ability of all citizens in the region to enjoy healthy, peaceful lives in safe communities. We must work to promote policies that support a two-state solution and encourage trust between both sides."

Jewish donors had played a big role in helping Johnson oust his predecessor, former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, in the 2006 Democratic primary. McKinney and her father, who was her predecessor, were notoriously anti-Semitic.

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