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