PHILADELPHIA – The Democrats continue to have an Israel problem.
On the sidelines of the Democratic National Convention here, Georgia Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson reportedly compared Israeli settlers – meaning Jews living in the West Bank or eastern Jerusalem – to termites.
Speaking at a Philadelphia meeting of the US Campaign to end the Israeli Occupation, a group that supports the boycott movement targeting Israel, Johnson made the offensive remarks.
He complained that “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.”
“It has come to the point that occupation, with highways that cut through Palestinian land, with walls that go up, with the inability or the restriction, with the illegality of Palestinians being able to travel on those roads and those roads cutting off Palestinian neighborhoods from each other,” Johnson continued.
“And then with the building of walls and the building of checkpoints that restrict movement of Palestinians. We’ve gotten to the point where the thought of a Palestinian homeland gets further and further removed from reality.”
The Anti-Defamation League reacted on Twitter by calling for Johnson to retract his “offensive, unhelpful characterization.”
— ADL (@ADL_National) July 25, 2016
Later on Monday, Johnson’s office released a statement claiming that “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,” the statement added. “When using the metaphor of termites, the Congressman was referring to the corrosive process, not the people.”
This is the second Israel-related scandal tied to Georgia Democrats. Over the weekend, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, whom Johnson was elected to replace, came under fire after implying on Twitter that Israel played a role in both the Nice and Munich terror attacks, based on the detail that an Israeli photographer was present at the scene of both incidents.
The report comes at a time the Democratic Party has been facing criticism within liberal pro-Israel circles for Hillary Clinton’s vice president pick, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine.
Kaine helped to generate support for the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran by whipping senators into opposing a vote that prevented the Senate from blocking the deal.
Kaine also boycotted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress last year warning about the Iran agreement.
The Times of Israel reported on Kaine’s advocacy against Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of Congress in March 2015:
Kaine worked behind the scenes to try to delay the speech, but when that failed, was among the first Democratic senators to announce that they would not attend the address.
In a statement explaining his position, Kaine said that “as a long-time supporter of the US-Israel relationship, I believe the timing of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address to Congress — just days before Israeli elections — is highly inappropriate.”
Arguing that holding the speech as planned would give an “appearance of US favoritism in a foreign election,” Kaine complained that “there is no reason to schedule this speech before Israeli voters go to the polls on March 17 and choose their own leadership.”
In an interview with this reporter, Alan Dershowitz, a staunch Democrat and emeritus law professor at Harvard University, stated Kaine boycott of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress was a “mark against” the candidate.
Still, Dershowitz maintained that the Clinton-Kaine ticket was “far better for America and for Israel” then the Donald Trump and Mike Pence ticket.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.