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White House ‘glad’ for apology, hours before Jayapal walks it back

First Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) called Israel "racist." She said she meant the Israeli government. Then she appeared to double down.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) speaks at the Hands Off Budget rally in Washington, D.C. on May 24, 2017. Credit: AFGE/Wikipedia.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) speaks at the Hands Off Budget rally in Washington, D.C. on May 24, 2017. Credit: AFGE/Wikipedia.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said on July 15 that “Israel is a racist state!” in an attempt to placate pro-Palestinian protestors disrupting a panel at the progressive Netroots Nation conference in Chicago.

The next day, the congresswoman or her staff had a change of heart. “I do not believe the idea of Israel as a nation is racist,” Jayapal stated. Instead, she meant that the Israeli government is racist, she said.

That apology was enough for the White House. “We saw that she apologized, and we’re glad she did,” John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council, said at the July 17 White House press briefing. “We think an apology was the right thing to do for those comments.”

A few hours after the press briefing concluded, Jayapal apparently had yet another change of heart.

The congresswoman retweeted an opinion article from The New York Times titled “The Hysterical Overreaction to Jayapal’s ‘Racist State’ Gaffe.”

In her tweet, Jayapal excerpted, “The rush to condemn her offhand remarks is […] about raising the political price of speaking about Israel forthrightly. […] It’s easier for Israel’s most stalwart boosters to harp on a critic’s slight misstatement.”

“The fact that Rep. Jayapal would retweet a NY Times article that absolves her of any wrongdoing for her hateful words against Israel means that her supposed apology was meaningless,” wrote Joel Petlin, superintendent of the Kiryas Joel School District. “Shame on the progressive Democrats who spew antisemitism and shame on The New York Times for defending them.”

“Walk back the walk-back, classic Squad move,” wrote Seth Mandel, executive editor of the Washington Examiner.

“From apology to ‘slight misstatement,’” wrote Josh Kraushaar, editor-in-chief of Jewish Insider.

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