White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Democratic Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s remark calling Israel a “racist” nation is “unacceptable,” but repeatedly commended her for apologizing.
Jayapal said the Jewish state is “racist” while attending a Netroots Nation conference in Chicago on Saturday, where she was interrupted by Palestinian protesters. The Washington representative apologized after members of her own party, including House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, condemned her remark.
Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich pressed Jean-Pierre about her fellow Democrat’s statement. The press secretary began by affirming the administration’s commitment to Israel.
“The president has been very clear,” Jean-Pierre began. “And I kind of stated this at the beginning, the United States and Israel’s relationship is a special one. There’s a special bond, there’s a commitment and it is a commitment to Israel’s right to exist, Israel’s security, and its legitimacy. I mean, that’s one of the reasons that the president spoke to the prime minister yesterday and is having this important meeting with the Israeli president. They’re going to have a conversation and how we continue to grow that special relationship.”
“The reason I ask is because yesterday, Kirby had said that you guys were glad that she apologized, but what we didn’t hear was any condemnation of her comment from the White House. Does the White House condemn that comment?” Heinrich asked.
“The apology was the right thing to do and we’ve been very clear, when it comes to antisemitism, this administration and the entire Biden-Harris administration have been clear, that when Israel is singled out because of anti-Jewish hate, that’s antisemitism, and that is unacceptable,” Jean-Pierre said. (RELATED: ‘They Need To Do Something’: Speaker McCarthy Reacts To Dem Rep’s ‘Antisemitic’ Remarks)
Heinrich asked again whether the White House condemns the comment. The press secretary reiterated that Jayapal apologized, and later added the comment was antisemitism.
“I didn’t hear whether it was a yes or no to that question but in another vein, there’s a vote happening in the House today. A resolution saying that Israel is not a racist state or an apartheid state. Does the White House want to see strong support for that resolution?” Heinrich asked.
“First of all, we condemn antisemitism. Anytime there is any anti-Jewish hate, we condemn it,” the press secretary said. “We’ve been very clear, that is answering your question. As it relates to anything that’s going on in the House, I refer you to the House. But again, I cannot be more clear. You have the president, right now, meeting with the president of Israel.”
Heinrich further pressed Jean-Pierre on the question of Democrats condemning the remark, leading the press secretary to become defensive.
“We have been very clear, anytime Israel is singled out with anti-Jewish hate, which is indeed antisemitism, it is unacceptable,” Jean-Pierre said. “It is is unacceptable.”
Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, known for her own controversial remarks on Israel, defended her colleague’s comments by accusing Congress of suppressing the language of “Black and Brown people.”
Israel President Isaac Herzog met with President Joe Biden at the White House on Tuesday to address tensions between the Biden administration and Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister. Biden has grown frustrated with Netanyahu’s positions on Israeli settlements and attempts to overhaul the country’s judicial system, The New York Times reported.