Exclusive: Pramila Jayapal Accused Israel of ‘War Crimes’ After Visiting Holocaust Museum

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, updates reporters after meeting with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and fellow Democrats as President Joe Biden's $1.75 trillion domestic policy package remains in limbo, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

“Progressive” caucus leader Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) accused Israel of “war crimes” shortly after visiting Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, prompting then-U.S. Ambassador David Friedman to walk out of a meeting with her in 2018.

The story is told in Friedman’s new memoir, Sledgehammer: How Breaking with the Past Brought Peace to the Middle East, set to be released on February 8 by HarperCollins.

Friedman was opposed by many Democrats, but met with congressional delegations when they came to Israel — except, he notes, left-wing Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), whom Israel barred because of an Israeli law preventing those who advocate boycotts of Israel from entering the country.

Jayapal and several other Democrats had been touring Israel with a group sponsored by J Street, a controversial, George Soros-backed left-wing organization that opposes many pro-Israeli policies.

As part of the tour, Jayapal went to Yad Vashem, a memorial where visiting heads of state and dignitaries pay their respects to the victims of the Holocaust. The memorial is part of a museum that provides in-depth information about the Holocaust and its background, and is renowned both for the quality of its historical exhibits and for the deeply moving testimonies it has preserved for visitors to experience.

Friedman tells the story about how Jayapal, after visiting Yad Vashem, told Friedman that Israel had committed “war crimes” over a decision by Israel’s Supreme Court permitting demolition of an illegally constructed Bedouin village, Khan al-Ahmar.

Friedman writes:

I was paid a visit by a group sponsored by J Street. Many were surprised that I met with them given the outrageous conduct they displayed in opposition to my Senate confirmation as well as their anti-Israel advocacy. But I decided, nonetheless, to give them an audience. I was optimistic that there might be some common ground with an organization that claims to be pro-Israel. There turned out to be no basis for my optimism.

J Street brought to the meeting Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, a progressive Democrat from the state of Washington who was making her first visit to Israel. Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s president, introduced Jayapal and invited her to speak.

“Mr. Ambassador,” she began. “This is my first visit to Israel and it’s an incredible country. I just visited Yad Vashem, so I certainly have a good sense of the tragedies that have befallen the Jewish People. But I also just visited Khan al-Ahmar, and I must say that there Israel is committing a war crime.”

The conditions in Khan al-Ahmar are the object of misguided activism within Western Europe and progressive America. If you drive down from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea on Highway 1, you see the “village” on the right alongside the road — a scattering of tents and tin-roof huts with an occasional camel or motorcycle interrupting the desert landscape. Khan al-Ahmar is inhabited today by about 150 Bedouins, a significant increase from the past before left-wing NGOs made it a cause célèbre.

It is illegal and unsafe housing, pure and simple. But Israel’s government has been attempting to change that for years … The Israeli Supreme Court has made numerous rulings that the community is illegal but has delayed its demolition in order to encourage a consensual resolution.

I turned to Congresswman Jayapal and began, “If, after visiting Yad Vashem, you consider Khan al-Ahmar a war crime, then you didn’t pay sufficient attention at Yad Vashem.

“In your vast study of the Holocaust, did you happen to notice whether Hitler gave the Jewish people ten years to litigate their rights to remain in their homes? And was there a judicial system in Nazi Germany that bent over backward to find a means for Jews to live safely and with dignity?’

I went on. “You may be right that there is a better way to resolve the Khan al-Ahmar dispute, although none has been presented, and I would be happy to have that discussion. But accusing Israel of committing a war crime tells me you know nothing about Israel and nothing about war crimes.” I turned to J Street’s leader and then back to the congresswoman. “You have been ill served by your tour guides.” And I walked out.

Politico reported Friday that Japayal is campaigning aggressively for a “caucus-wide” leadership position in the Democratic Party.

Earlier this week, Breitbart News reported another explosive story from Friedman’s book, in which he recalled being told by a senior State Department official, “Don’t be so Jewish. You represent the United States of America.”

Sledgehammer is the first insider’s account of the diplomacy that led to the regional breakthrough known as the Abraham Accords, bringing about peace agreements between Israel and several Arab states that conventional wisdom said would be impossible to achieve.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.