In a rare act of unity and unanimity, all 25 Jewish members of the U.S. House of Representatives issued a statement on Monday slamming recent comments made by Amnesty International’s U.S. director, Paul O’Brien.
Last week, O’Brien said that Israel should not exist as a Jewish state, claiming that polls showing overwhelming support for Israel from U.S. Jewish community are inaccurate.
In a joint statement, the lawmakers said, "On the heels of a recent Amnesty International report that a number of members condemned as delegitimizing of the Jewish people's right to self-determination and undermining of the prospects for a two-state solution, Amnesty International USA's Executive Director Paul O'Brien has now taken a new, very disturbing step: purporting to speak for the entire Jewish community on Israel."
"He claimed his ‘gut' tells him ‘what Jewish people in this country want' is that Israel ‘shouldn't exist as a Jewish state,'" the statement continued. "As Jewish Members of the House of Representatives, we represent diverse views on a number of issues relating to Israel. However, we are in full agreement that Mr. O'Brien's patronizing attempt to speak on behalf of the American Jewish community is alarming and deeply offensive. He has added his name to the list of those who, across centuries, have tried to deny and usurp the Jewish people's independent agency. We stand united in condemning this and any antisemitic attempt to deny the Jewish people control of their own destiny."
The statement was signed by Reps. Jake Auchincloss, Suzanne Bonamici, David Cicilline, Steve Cohen, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Josh Gottheimer, Sara Jacobs, Mike Levin (CA), Andy Levin (MI), Alan Lowenthal, Elaine Luria, Kathy Manning, Jerry Nadler, Dean Phillips, Jamie Raskin, Jan Schakowsky, Adam Schiff, Brad Schneider, Kim Schrier, Brad Sherman, Elissa Slotkin, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Susan Wild and John Yarmuth.
Amnesty’s U.S. director made the disturbing remarks in an address at the Women’s National Democratic Club in Washington D.C. In his speech, O’Brien defended the international organization’s latest report that designated Israel as an “apartheid” state. He was asked by a person in the crowd about a 2020 Ruderman Family Foundation poll that showed eight in 10 American Jews identify as “pro-Israel.”
“I actually don’t believe that to be true,” O’Brien said regarding those figures, according to the Jewish Insider that first reported the story. “I believe my gut tells me that what Jewish people in this country want is to know that there’s a sanctuary that is a safe and sustainable place that the Jews, the Jewish people can call home.”
On the question of Israel’s right to exist, O’Brien replied that Israel “shouldn’t exist as a Jewish state.” He stressed that “the right of the people to self-determination and to be protected is without a doubt.” But added, “we are opposed to the idea – and this, I think, is an existential part of the debate – that Israel should be preserved as a state for the Jewish people.”
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.