CHICAGO — As protesters with Palestinian flags disrupted a Saturday keynote with several members of Congress at the Netroots Nation conference, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) sought to placate the Israel critics.
“I want you to know that we have been fighting to make it clear that Israel is a racist state!” said Jayapal. “That the Palestinian people deserve self-determination and autonomy. That the dream of the two-state solution is slipping away from us. That it does not even feel possible.”
Jayapal has urged the White House not to use the widely-accepted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of anti-Semitism, and she was one of 19 members of Congress who voted against honoring Israel’s 75th anniversary.
She was speaking at the Netroots Nation conference, which bills itself as the progressive movement’s largest annual convention, in Chicago.
Markos Moulitsas, founder of Daily Kos, was moderating the discussion with Jayapal and Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Jesús García (D-Ill.). He asked the trio what it thought of the younger generation of “incredible” leaders, Reps. Summer Lee (D-Pa.), Delia Ramirez (D-Ill.), Greg Casar (D-Texas), Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who had just spoken.
“At this moment we stand in solidarity with Palestine.” In her remarks, Omar had said that the Palestinian people “have now experienced occupation and displacement for 75 years,” said Reggie Hubbard, of Active Peace Yoga earlier in the program, too much applause.
As Jayapal turned it over to Schakowsky, the protesters stood up chanting and bearing Palestinian flags. “I’m your ally,” Schakowsky appeared to say.
“Thank you,” said García lifting his hand up. “We hear you, and we feel you.”
The protesters quieted down until it was Schakowsky’s turn to speak again. As she began, the flags came up and the chanting began again.
“I want to be very clear,” said Moulitsas rising to his feet. “Jan Schakowsky is a supporter of a negotiated, two-state solution,” he said, to some boos from the crowd. “I know there is a group of you that don’t believe that. I encourage everybody else in this room to look up Jan Schakowsky on her website.”
As the protesters continued, Schakowsky stood up and burnished her own credentials.
“I am one of the highest ranking Jewish members of Congress. Have been one of the most outspoken voices for justice for the Palestinians and currently a vocal critic of this current administration in the State of Israel,” she said. “Don’t go after your allies.”
As the protests continued, she told her co-panelists, “Maybe I should just walk off, guys.”
She opted to stay, but it took many more minutes of negotiations, some yoga breathing and a sounding of a gong (to “clear the room” and “proceed in peace”) before the program got back on track.
Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate
Edited by Judy J. Rotich and Newsdesk Manager
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