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July 28, 2016 4:44 am

The ADL Should Not Accept Congressman Hank Johnson’s Phony Apology for Calling Jews ‘Termites’

avatar by Morton A. Klein

Email a copy of "The ADL Should Not Accept Congressman Hank Johnson’s Phony Apology for Calling Jews ‘Termites’" to a friend
Georgia lawmaker Hank Johnson addressing an event sponsored by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, where he compared Israeli Jews to "termites." Photo: Jewish Voice for Peace/ Twitter.

Georgia lawmaker Hank Johnson addressing an event sponsored by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, where he compared Israeli Jews to “termites.” Photo: Jewish Voice for Peace/ Twitter.

It’s wrong for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to have failed to condemn as blatant antisemitism Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA)’s “termites” label for Jews living in Judea/Samaria.

It’s also wrong for the ADL to have accepted Johnson’s phony apology “tweet,”  which read: “Poor choice of words – apologies for offense.  Point is settlement activity continues slowly undermine 2-state solution.”

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is not alone in feeling this way.

Prominent Los Angeles Rabbi David Wolpe wrote: “That is not an apology.  ‘I am sorry I said something stupid and anti-Semitic’ — that would have been a fitting apology.  These are not trivial issues. . . . To call Jews ‘termites’ is base and vile.”

Commentary editor John Podhoretz tweeted:  “How about using the term “anti-Semitic,” you cowards?  He compared Jews to TERMITES, for f —‘s sake.”

Regarding Congressman Johnson’s initial “termites” statement, the ADL merely tweeted:  “This is an offensive and unhelpful characterization. Demonization, dehumanization of settlers doesn’t advance peace.”

The ADL then immediately let the Congressman “off the hook.” In response to Congressman Johnson’s phony apology, the ADL tweeted: “We appreciate ‪@RepHankJohnson‘s clarification here.”

In fact, the “settlements” comprise only 2% of Judea/Samaria, and there has been virtually no building in Judea/Samaria during the past two years. Further, 99% of Palestinian Arabs live in areas governed by Palestinians.

Congressman Johnson’s deplorable comments are also reminiscent of the communities, clubs, beaches and hotels in the US  in past decades that posted signs saying, “No Dogs, No Colored, No Jews, No Irish.” As a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressman Johnson should be particularly sensitive to the inappropriateness of leveling epithets against religious and ethnic groups, including Jews.

Can you imagine the outrage if a congressperson called blacks living in certain communities “termites”?  There would be a demand for his resignation. Saying that Jews shouldn’t live in Judea/Samaria because Arabs don’t want Jews there is as racist as saying that blacks shouldn’t live in white suburbs because some whites may not want blacks living there.

The ADL also disgracefully failed to condemn Congressman Johnson’s involvement in the antisemitic forum where the Congressman referred to Jews as “termites.” The Congressman was speaking at a side event to the Democratic National Convention sponsored by the “U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.” This notorious antisemitic organization calls Israel’s rebirth in 1948 a “catastrophe” and promotes the antisemitic, anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which is aimed at destroying the state of Israel.

Anti-Israel boycotts are blatant antisemitic discrimination; harm both Jews and Arabs; and violate the Oslo Accords signed by the PLO/PA. Congressman Johnson should apologize for speaking on behalf of an antisemitic, anti-Israel pro-BDS organization.

The ADL also failed to condemn Congressman Johnson’s other egregious statements. During his speech, Johnson improperly condemned Israel for “the building of walls and the building of check points that restrict movement of Palestinians.”

Johnson omitted the key fact that Israel built the security fence and checkpoints out of necessity — to stop Palestinian-Arab terrorist attacks, after Palestinian-Arab terrorists murdered approximately 2,000 innocent Jews and wounded almost 10,000 in suicide bombings in pizza parlors, buses and Passover Seders during the Second Intifada.

Does Congressman Johnson also condemn the checkpoints at his congressional office building that assure his personal safety? If not, he should also apologize for his remarks about the security fence and checkpoints that Israel had to build solely to stop terrorist attacks.

The ADL also failed to address the congressman’s false denials of his “termites” label for Jews. Congressman Johnson told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution that he did not call Jewish Israelis termites, and that he did not intend to insult or speak derogatorily of the Israelis or the Jewish people; instead, he said, his termite metaphor was intended to refer to the “corrosive settlement process.” In fact, the congressman did analogize Jews to termites, when he spoke of termites “getting into” and eating up residences. The congressman was referring to Jews who are living in (“getting into”) their homes in Judea/Samaria.

Congressman Johnson said: “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.”

Moreover, “settlements” have nothing to do with a lack of peace. The causes of the lack of peace are Palestinian-Arab terrorism and the Palestinian-Arab leaders’ continuing incitement of Jew-hatred; payments to Palestinian-Arab terrorists for murdering Jews; and their unrelenting genocidal goal of destroying Israel. The Palestinian-Arab leadership repeatedly rejected generous proposals for a state, because those proposals would have required them to end their goal of destroying Israel.

The ADL does not speak for us, or for other Jews and pro-Israel groups and individuals. We do not appreciate Congressman Johnson’s offensive “clarification.”

Congressman Johnson owes Israel and the Jewish people a full and sincere apology for speaking on behalf of an organization that promotes anti-Israel boycotts and Israel’s destruction, and for calling Jews living in Judea and Samaria “termites.”

Morton A. Klein is the President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). 

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • Milt Schwartzberg

    This is the same moron who testified before a Congressional committee stating that the island of Guam would sink into the ocean if any more people would locate there. He obviously has an affinity for termites
    since his IQ is equal to that of the more intelligent members of that insect species.

    I would be happy to make a contribution to his opponent
    and get his sorry ass out of the House. Could you provide me with his opponent’s contact information?
    Milt Schwartzberg, Boston, Massachusetts

  • Linda Golden

    You cannot get a sincere apology from anyone who believes he speaks the truth and only says sorry when the pushback occurs. Better to check him out and publish what he really is…anyone, who believes Guam can capsize is a total idiot, and would be laughable, ibut in these days of social media, gets believed by more stupid idiots we call the public. An apology is meaningless from him. Same for Mel Gibson .

  • Al Talena

    Don’t expect the ADL or any other lefty leaning Jewish group to criticize a Democrat. They are Democrats & Leftys first and Jews second. I have no doubt hat the ADL leadership is mainly concerned with preventing anti-Semitism that challenges their position of accepted House Jews.

  • Jeremy

    The similarity between Cong. Johnson’s “termites” and the Nazi “vermin” is too close to be ignored. If Cong. Johnson accepts that “Jewish lives matter” he should resign immediately to indicate he finally “gets it”. His resignation might send a message to the Black community that the growing anti-Semitism there has to stop.

    The sad fact is that most of what Cong. Johnson and his friends believe about the Middle East conflict is exactly backwards. Even the settlements issue is backwards: serious discussions of finding a solution were possible before the campaign against them took hold, but have been basically impossible since they were denounced as a key obstacle. The PA calls for settlement freezes, but when they get one, fails to pursue a solution. The reason this is the case is that the settlements provide leverage for Israel to push for a solution sooner rather than later. Remove that leverage, and the Palestinians have no reason to negotiate.

    It usually pays to think through issues.

  • It is totally hypocritical to pretend the Civilian Jewish settlement being forced upon the Palestinians in the west bank has no impact on the peace process or on furthering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    The Israeli right wing nationalists do not WANT a settlement with the Palestinians – neither a two-state solution not a one-state solution. They are fully aware, and do not deny, that building civilian settlements on the West Bank is aimed at perpetuating Israeli presence there, and making separation more and more impossible. Why deny this obvious truth ?
    The right-wing nationalists want to simply maintain the current situation, forever. Their best solution is, to maintain the status quo. It is unfortunate that this status quo is NOT being maintained – it is weakening Israel and strengthening the Palestinians, politically, economically and morally. It is the main action that turns Israels supporters or potential supporters against Israel. We are losing the emotional support of our greatest and most important allies.
    Even Palestinians who would want o just live their lives in peace have lived on for many many years – does this not make the conflict worse ? Would Americans not fight against invading Russian soldiers controlling their lives ?

  • stevenl

    It is easy to recognize an antisemite when she/he opens her/his mouth.

  • I don’t think that the congressman is capable of an honest apology . I also feel the adl is a useless organization that
    does nothing

  • Myron Slater

    I am a resident of Georgia and am ashamed of Congressman Johnson. He, of all people, should not call people by an insulating name! He needs to do some research, go on the internet, and see who are the “bad guys”. Being black, he should know what happens when you call people names.

  • Ephraim

    Cockroaches such as Johnson are strictly from the perspective of “My people matter, others can be brutalized with impunity.” His lies and slanders continue to be typical of a white supremacist hater, which makes his behavior all the more despicable.

    The Democratic Party is rife with vicious antisemitism, thanks to the example set by our antisemite-in-chief. It is hard to believe this is a descendant of the party of civil rights and the light of true liberal thought.

  • Francis Figliola

    This man has a termite infested nest of a wooden brain!

  • Isahiah62

    Always Democrats League will do so , b/c they must continue in their delusions, fool themselves into believing that party supports Israel ..the same will continue to believe the myths created about Trump being a racist or supporter of neonazis etc.

  • Barry Cooperstein

    From personal experience, ADL is a toothless tiger more devoted to the left than to defending Jews and fighting defamation.

  • Kaplan

    Sounds like Rep. Johnson got his clarifying statement “corrosive settlement process” directly from the West Wing language monitor as did (copied from Reuters): “…State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement on Wednesday.

    Kirby called the settlement activity “corrosive to the cause of peace.” … ”

    The Democratic Party Leadership (Pelosi, Reid, Obama, HRC, Schumer) should force Congressman Hank Johnson Jr. to resign from the House Armed Services Committee, where he sits on these three sub-committees:

    Oversight and Investigations
    Seapower and Projection Forces
    Tactical Air and Land Forces

    after all, what difference does it make?