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‘The rape … but,’ Jayapal twice hedges on Hamas sexual violence on ‘CNN’

Dana Bash, of CNN's State of the Union, repeatedly pressed the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus on anti-Israel bias on the left.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, interviews on the CNN program State of the Union with Dana Bash on Dec. 3, 2023. Credit: YouTube/CNN.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, interviews on the CNN program State of the Union with Dana Bash on Dec. 3, 2023. Credit: YouTube/CNN.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) twice hedged her condemnations of Hamas terrorists raping Israeli women during an interview on Sunday with Dana Bash of the CNN program State of the Union.

“The rape, of course, but I think we have to remember that Israel is a democracy. That is why they are a strong ally of ours, and if they do not comply with international humanitarian law, they are bringing themselves to a place that makes it much more difficult strategically for them to be able to build the kinds of allies to keep public opinion with them,” Jayapal said.

When Bash noted that Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, answered a question about the rape of Israeli women by condemning Israel broadly, the congresswoman said: “I already answered your question, Dana.”

Instead of deploying the conjunction “but,” as she had previously, Jayapal used the conjunctive adverb “however” this time.

“I said it’s horrific, and I think that rape is horrific. Sexual assault is horrific. I think that it happens in war situations. Terrorist organizations like Hamas obviously are using these as tools, however, I think we have to be balanced about bringing in the outrages against Palestinians,” she said.

Jayapal—who called Israel a “racist state” in July and then seemed to apologize before doubling down a few days later—told Bash that Israeli forces have killed 15,000 Palestinians, “three-quarters of whom are women.”

Bash called that “horrible” without questioning the source of the numbers. But the CNN host told Jayapal that Israeli soldiers don’t rape Palestinian women.

“I don’t want this to be the hierarchy of oppression,” Jayapal said.

‘We cannot prevent people from lying’

Bash noted that “It’s kind of remarkable that this issue hasn’t gotten enough attention globally—widespread use of rape, brutal rape, sexual violence against Israeli women by Hamas.”

“I’ve seen a lot of progressive women, generally speaking—they’re quick to defend women’s rights and speak out against using rape as a weapon of war, but downright silent on what we saw on Oct. 7,” she added, “and what might be happening inside Gaza right now to these hostages.”

When Bash noted that Jayapal had seen information and intelligence that Hamas uses Palestinian civilians as human shields and that it stores weapons and has its headquarters in hospitals, the congresswoman insisted that “international humanitarian law” still precludes attacking hospitals. She allowed that if rockets were fired from the hospital, that would be an exception.

“But hospitals are protected,” she said. “We should have conditions on military aid.”

JNS has reported that hospitals, mosques and schools, in which Hamas terrorists hide, are legitimate targets according to international law. “The laws of war permit Israel to target and destroy Hamas, and all its members, and to destroy Hamas’s rule in Gaza,” according to Avi Bell, a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law and Bar-Ilan University.

“The relevant rule of proportionality states that Israel is allowed to strike at Hamas, even as the terrorists surround themselves with human shields, so long as the collateral damage to civilians is not clearly disproportionate to the military gain,” Bell told JNS in October.

The trouble, he said, is that the law can be complicated and vague. “The problem is that when it comes to Israel, many fabricate international law or selectively ignore international law in order to protect the antisemitic terrorists and falsely accuse the Jewish state,” Bell added. “We cannot prevent people from lying in this way, but it would be a mistake to alter our course of action to accommodate the liars.”

In response to Bash’s comment that the Israel Defense Forces doesn’t rape Palestinian women, Jayapal appeared to do what Bell warned about.

“Frankly, morally, I think we cannot say that one war crime deserves another. That is not what international humanitarian law says,” the congresswoman said. “We have been allowing Israel to literally indiscriminately bomb hospitals, violate international humanitarian law.”

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