U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat, seemingly compared Jewish settlers on Israel’s West Bank, also known as Judea and Samaria, to termites.
Johnson, a Hillary Clinton superdelegate, made these comments to an anti-Israel organization affiliated with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement at an event in Philadelphia, the site of the Democratic National Convention. BDS advocates seek to isolate the Jewish state from the world community because of the ongoing dispute over the West Bank area outside of the control of the Palestinian Authority.
A Member of Congress since 2007, Johnson represents Georgia’s Fourth Congressional District and serves on the Armed Services Committee. Prior to this incident, the lawmaker’s primary national notoriety came in worrying that Guam might sink (see clip below) because of overpopulation. “My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize,” he declared to an admiral in a Capitol Hill public hearing.
Johnson’s office later claimed that he was kidding.
In a story broken by the Washington Free Beacon, Rep. Johnson reportedly argued that Jewish settlers were taking away land that supposedly belongs to Palestinians.
“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, 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…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…”
Although the left in America and in Europe seems irrationally fixated on the Israeli-Palestinian discord on the West Bank of Israel to the point in some cases of anti-Semitism, territorial disputes and sectarian struggles exist all over the world. Israel is perhaps the only country for which the international community tries to dictate where its citizens can live, however.
Whether you approve of its policies or not, the state of Israel is the only functioning multicultural democracy in the Middle East. Israel has been plagued for the past year with lone-wolf knife attacks by Palestinian terrorists.
Evidently, there is no video (at least so far) of Johnson’s remarks about Jewish settlers.
Moreover, Jews have been continuously present in what is now known as Israel for approximately 4,000 years, according to the Jewish Virtual Library website as well as many other sources. Israel was founded in May 1948 after British mandate over what was then called Palestine officially ended.
This is an offensive and unhelpful characterization. Demonization, dehumanization of settlers doesn’t advance peace https://t.co/m4rus9nuqk
— ADL (@ADL_National) July 25, 2016
In response to criticism from the Anti-Defamation League, Johnson, 61, who recently returned from a trip to the Middle East, apologized today for what he called a poor choice of words comparing Jewish settlements to termites.
The congressman subsequently explained to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Israel’s settlements on the West Bank make a two-state solution more difficult in his opinion. His office also claimed that the Beacon headline (“Congressman: Jewish Settlers Are Like Termites”) was misleading.
“The article (Free Beacon) headline is wrong. Congressman Johnson did not call Israelis termites but did say the settlement policies threaten peace and the two-state solution. Congressman Johnson did not intend to insult or speak derogatorily of the Israelis or the Jewish people. When using the metaphor of termites, the Congressman was referring to the corrosive process, not the people.”
Ironically, Johnson defeated fellow Democrat Cynthia McKinney in a 2006 runoff on his way to an overwhelming victory in the general election and has held the House seat ever since. Johnson’s termite comparison “came two days after former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, a Democrat with a track record of making remarks viewed as anti-Semitic, implied on Twitter that Israel was behind recent attacks in France and Germany,” the AJC separately reported.
In his remarks at the BDS conclave, Rep. Hank Johnson made another odd comparison. Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s “right-wing” defense minister, in what Johnson described as the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, is “like Trump.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud coalition was reelected in March 2015 (in another campaign outcome that the pollsters got wrong) amid allegations that President Obama operatives intervened in the election on behalf of Netanyahu’s opponents.
[Photo by Paul Abell/AP Images]