Kevin McCarthy Challenges Hakeem Jeffries ‘to Prove’ Certain House Democrats Are ‘Not Antisemitic’

kevin mccarthy challenges hakeem jeffries to prove certain house democrats are not antisemitic
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) challenged Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) to prove certain members of his conference are not antisemitic after Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) said that “Israel is a racist state” over the weekend — a comment she later walked back.

“This isn’t the first person in the Democratic conference that has continued to make antisemitic comments,” McCarthy said at a press conference at the Capitol Monday. “We’ve watched what they have continually [sic] to do. There are a number of them over there.”

He then challenged Jeffries to “prove” certain members of his conference “are not anti-Semitic,” stating:

I think if the Democrats want to believe that they do not have conference that continues to make antisemitic remarks, they need to do something about it because they’ve defended these individuals time and again. The only time action has ever been taken is when we had to take the action. I think this is a role for the leader, Hakeem, to prove that, no, they’re not antisemitic, and they cannot allow their members to continue to say what they have said in the past.

Jayapal issued anti-Israel remarks at a “pro-Palestinian” protest on Saturday in Chicago, as NPR noted:

“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 doesn’t even feel possible,” Jayapal said before a crowd. 

kevin mccarthy challenges hakeem jeffries to prove certain house democrats are not antisemitic

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

She reversed course the next day.

“At a conference, I attempted to defuse a tense situation during a panel where fellow members of Congress were being protested. Words do matter and so it is important that I clarify my statement. I do not believe the idea of Israel as a nation is racist,” Jayapal said before accusing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of running an “extreme right-wing government” that “has engaged in discriminatory and outright racist policies,” per NPR.

The comments came days before Israeli President Isaac Herzog is set to deliver an address to both Houses of Congress “on the 75th anniversary of the creation of Israel,” McCarthy noted Monday.

He emphasized that Jayapal, who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, “is not just elected as a Democrat in their conference, she is a leader in their caucuses and she’s making these comments.”

McCarthy pointed to several other members on the progressive side of the aisle he says have also engaged in anti-Israel comments or actions, including, Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MN), and Betty McCollum (D-MN). In 2021, Omar likened Israel and the United States to the Taliban and Hamas.

Tlaib, too, made inflammatory comments about Israel in 2021, as Breitbart News senior editor Joel Pollak noted at the time. 

“Tlaib also made the awkward remark that ‘[t]here’s always kind of a calming feeling I tell folks when I think of the Holocaust,’ meaning that she felt reassured about the ‘fact’ [sic] that Palestinians had helped Jews (they did not),” Pollak wrote. 

The speaker also pointed to a resolution that McCollum once put forth, which he says was “to condemn Israel and support Palestinian terrorist organization.”

“These are just multiple Democrats on multiple times consistently saying anti-Semitic remarks and it has got to stop,” he said.

The top two House Democrats, Jeffries and Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-MA), along with Reps. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) and Ted Lieu (D-CA) said Sunday in a joint statement that “Israel is not a racist state.” Jayapal was not mentioned in their release. 

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Omar have refused to attend Herzog’s address this week, as the Hill noted. Rep. Jamal Bowman (D-NY) has also said he “probably” would not attend the joint address.

On Friday morning, Jeffries told media members at a press conference, “I look forward to welcoming [Herzog] with open arms when he comes to speak before Congress next Wednesday.”

kevin mccarthy challenges hakeem jeffries to prove certain house democrats are not antisemitic

Representative Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, left, speaks with Representative Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from New York. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

 Jeffries, earlier this year, had to answer for defending his antisemitic uncle, Leonard Jeffries, several decades ago following a CNN report in mid-April. CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck’s noted:

While Jeffries was a college student at Binghamton University in upstate New York, the Black Student Union, in which Jeffries was an executive board member, invited his uncle to speak on campus after [Leonard’s] inflammatory comments caused an uproar.

Leonard Jeffries faced widespread backlash in the early 1990s after comments he made about the involvement of “rich Jews” in the African slave trade and “a conspiracy, planned and plotted and programmed out of Hollywood” of Jewish executives who he said were responsible for denigrating Black Americans in films.

Jeffries also authored a 1992 editorial article, unearthed by CNN, asserting under the subheading “White Media” that his uncle was the target of “character assassination.” He also referenced Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan under the subheading. 

Moreover, the decades-old editorial took aim at black conservatives as Jeffries opined the demographic “threatens to sustain the oppression of the black masses.” He then drew a parallel between black conservatives and “house” slaves.

“Leader Jeffries has consistently been clear that he does not share the controversial views espoused by his uncle over thirty years ago,” spokeswoman Christina Stephenson said in a statement to CNN at the time. 

Just over a week after CNN’s report, Jeffries’s office issued a press release stating he was leading a Democrat delegation of 12 to both Ghana and then Israel, where they met with Herzog.  

Authored by Nick Gilbertson via Breitbart July 17th 2023