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Support for Rep. Hank Johnson following mischaracterization of his remarks on settlements

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and Jewish Voice for Peace thank Representative Hank Johnson for his participation in the event “Progressive for Palestine: Is the US Ready to Rethink Policy on Israel,” which took place yesterday in Philadelphia during the Democratic National Convention.

Representative Johnson offered insightful comments on the diminishing prospects for a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, citing Israel’s ongoing settlement activity – which violates international law and official US policy going back decades – on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, a point consistently made by both the Obama and Bush administrations.

Representative Johnson analogized this settlement activity to that of termites hollowing out and undermining a structure, noting that settlement expansion has made the creation of a viable Palestinian state in the occupied territories all but impossible. From a plain reading of his remarks, it was clear that Representative Johnson was referring, as he clarified afterward, to a “corrosive process, not the people.”

A video of Representative Johnson’s remarks can be found here (at 34:45).

This analogy was taken out of context in an article with a misleading headline written by a journalist with a longstanding record of anti-Palestinian reporting. The effect of this deliberate misreading was to distract from the important observations made by Representative Johnson regarding the expansion of Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise and what life is like for millions of Palestinians living under Israel’s nearly 50-year-old repressive military occupation regime.

Representative Johnson is among a growing number of Members of Congress who are speaking out in support of Palestinian rights and a just peace between Palestinian and Israelis. We thank Representative Johnson for his continued fight for the human and civil rights of all people, including Palestinians.

US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is the largest and most diverse coalition working to change U.S. policy toward Palestine/Israel to support human rights, international law, and equality. Learn more at

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Jewish Voice for Peace

Jewish Voice for Peace is a diverse and democratic community of activists inspired by Jewish tradition to work together for peace, social justice, and human rights. We support the aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for security and self-determination.

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28 Responses

  1. JWalters on July 27, 2016, 1:01 am

    “We thank Representative Johnson for his continued fight for the human and civil rights of all people, including Palestinians.”

    Listening to the MANY speakers at the Democratic convention EMPHASIZING the central importance of equal justice for all people as a CORE value of the Democratic party, it’s OBVIOUS to any reasonably informed person that Israel’s actions, policies, and values bear no resemblance to those of the Democratic party.

    The ONLY realistic explanation for the absolute avoidance of this fact by all these passionately exhorting Democrats, and all the establishment media figures reporting on them, including the “liberal” media, is the well-known factor of money. There is no other sensible explanation.

    Hopefully the tide of information and public awareness will continue rising, and ultimately free these captives from their financial chains. Hopefully a great MANY of them WANT to break free from those chains. Hopefully they will take heart from the example of Representative Johnson.

  2. on July 27, 2016, 10:50 am

    Agreed and Representative Johnson should be thanked and honored for speaking out as he did. But what we’re seeing goes well beyond “the well-known factor of money” you mention. It goes to the monolithic power and influence of the Israel and Zionist lobby over the politicians, candidates, Dems and Republicans and U.S. cultural and educational institutions.

    This may help explain Rep. Johnson’s need to apologize for his comments and the tepid, apologist description the relevant events by JVP and U.S. Campaign.

    Of course, two-state and one-state solutions are meaningless to begin with, until adorned with policy proposals like right of return to and of land, pulling back the settlements, reparations for Palestinians, withdrawing US support for Israel until they take action to resolve the situation and so forth.

    The apology seems like it must have been forced on Rep. Johnson, because he takes back the essence of what he said. Termites at work is a pretty benign analogy to the the settlers and their enablers, the Israeli people, who are complicit in what Rep. Johnson describes. Supposedly Israel is a democracy and could elect officials who would take action against the settlers. But they haven’t, sitting idle, even encouraging the criminal behavior. Marauders, pillagers, plunderers, thieves would be more accurate than termites.

    And what’s this “corrosive process”. That’s meaningless. Of course, it’s the Israelis who are building settlements and stealing land, attacking Palestinians and their land and trees and crops, with the support of the Israeli people government, police and military. And most of those Israelis not doing the settling are by act or inaction supporting the settlers, as discussed above.

    I feel sorry for Rep. Johnson that he felt the need to apologize. I feel sorry for JVP and U.S. Occupation that they don’t have the intestinal fortitude to name the miscreants responsible for the “article with a misleading headline written by a journalist with a longstanding record of anti-Palestinian reporting” And they shouldn’t have supported the apology when it wasn’t necessary for anyone, except perhaps Rep. Johnson for some unexplained reason and the Israel Lobby.

    Holding Israel responsible for its decades of wrongs against the Palestinians and the true interests of most people in the U.S. is going to involve taking away much support for the Jewish homeland that many Jews in American apparently treasure. If you sow the wind…..

    I get the feeling that JVP and U.S. Occupation are very ambivalent about their feelings in that regard. They sure seem to be pulling punches in this article.

    • genesto on July 27, 2016, 4:34 pm

      Right on all counts! JVP and the USCEIO ARE tepid, because they still feel the need to cater to the ‘sensitivities’ of liberal Zionists that still form a significant portion of their base, as well as their leadership (and their major sources of funding??). Otherwise, why would both organizations refuse to publicly acknowledge that Zionism is racist, something that is irrefutable.

  3. Jon66 on July 27, 2016, 5:16 pm

    This is the same Congressman who asked if Guam would “tip over and capsize” if more military personnel were stationed there.

    • xanadou on July 27, 2016, 6:00 pm

      So, which is it : You don’t approve of the Congressman’s sense of sarcasm? Or you don’t think a not-white man capable of same?

      • Jon66 on July 27, 2016, 10:28 pm

        I don’t approve of people making idiotic statements in the public record and then when it is pointed out to them saying they were only joking. Did he or the man testifying smile? I know he is not the first or last to say idiotic things. Perhaps Cruz will let us know in a few years that he was only joking about climate change. Watch the video.

      • annie on July 27, 2016, 10:45 pm

        jon, let’s say we take his statements at face value for the sake of argument. what do you think that means. do you think he’s morally deficient and his analogy of settlements as termites hollowing out and undermining a structure of the creation of a viable Palestinian state in the occupied territories all but impossible — is wrong? if so why?

        or is your point that he’s stupid (for thinking 30k americans on that tiny island could sink the island) and therefore we shouldn’t listen to him?

      • Jon66 on July 27, 2016, 11:14 pm

        I think analogizing Israelis to pests that invade your house and that you call an exterminator to kill is offensive. Weren’t you offended when Shaked quoted another person who compared Palestinians to snakes?

        If he thinks the settlement are troublesome the analogy is offensive.

        As to his acumen,”On October 5, 2014 The Washingtonian published their 15th biennial “Best & Worst of Congress” list. Rep. Johnson was voted “Worst Speaker” and “Most Clueless” by congressional staffers.” At least he was at the top.

      • gamal on July 28, 2016, 2:34 am

        “let’s say we take his statements at face value”

        I have studied Guam, it appears to be a small diagram in two dimensions, its brown surrounded by blue,

        and therefore it is not possible for Guam to tip up no matter how many people you pile on one end as a), this is not an allowable motion in 2 dimensions and
        b) because it has no underside,

        you may rotate it , i thought perhaps expand it in skew directions, i gona line it up along the straight ones.

        the dangers of being one dimensional were fully explained by Mark Hughes, who was in a bright army, in that famous book which is ironically only available as a 3 dimensional object because its hard to turn the pages in one dimension.

      • eljay on July 28, 2016, 8:52 am

        The problem with the termite analogy is that it implies that the undermining is going unnoticed, which is entirely untrue.

        The colonialist and religion-supremacist “Jewish State” project is more like a serial rapist kidnapping women and chaining them in his basement for his sadistic “self-determination” pleasure while the police – under orders from their chief – nod, wink and turn a blind eye to his unjust and immoral activities.

      • Jon66 on July 28, 2016, 3:25 pm


        The question is why you would invite a man who fears a capsizing island to your conference in the first place. I guess if it’s the best you got…

      • Mooser on July 28, 2016, 5:59 pm

        “I think analogizing Israelis to pests that invade your house and that you call an exterminator to kill is offensive”

        So be offended. Nobody wants to take away your right to be offended.
        What is wrong with offending Zionists? I bet you can’t tell me.

      • annie on July 29, 2016, 3:04 pm

        Johnson was voted “Worst Speaker” and “Most Clueless” by congressional staffers.” At least he was at the top.

        no, he wasn’t on top:


        1. Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
        2. TIE: Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

        1. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.)
        2. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.)

        analogizing Israelis to pests that invade your house and that you call an exterminator to kill is offensive.

        i can see your point had he referenced israelis as people, but he didn’t. he said occupation and settlements.

        and i’ve told this story before here but since our older archives are wiped clean (for the time being knock on wood) i’ll tell it again. after my lawyer was able to settle a claim in our favor after 5 long years i complimented him by telling him he was like a termite. he wasn’t pleased with that analogy and asked if i could upgrade at least to a badger. and i said no, a termite decimates the wood and turns it into dust leaving nothing in it’s wake. so i was sticking with termite. needless to say i wasn’t suggesting he be exterminated.

        i think it’s a good analogy because settlements are turning the idea of a palestinian state into dust. the judification of jerusalem and palestine is turning palestine to dust (which is the point and what has been intended all along). and i think that’s clear in the analogy just as my analogy wrt what my lawyer did for me was clear. only if you take both stories out of context does it imply your inflammatory claim about extermination.

        (edit.. just realized he was on top in the [house] clueless segment)

    • Marnie on July 28, 2016, 7:49 am

      What are you really complaining about – termites? It’s a good analogy. Try to deal with it.

      • Mooser on July 28, 2016, 6:01 pm

        ” Try to deal with it.”

        It’s anti-Semitic to be anti-Termitic.

    • Marnie on July 29, 2016, 2:36 pm

      Just because the Congressman apologized, don’t expect the same from anyone here. Again, termites a very apt analogy, ya dig?

      • Jon66 on July 29, 2016, 3:30 pm


        I would never expect an apology. I get it. To you Israelis are subhuman pests. I just don’t think that words like that enrich the dialogue or add to the discourse. Termites, parasites, snakes, or monkeys the dehumanization of those with whom we disagree is a dangerous path to walk. I don’t think it leads anywhere worthwhile. But that’s just my opinion.

        “Our dehumanization of the Negro then is indivisible from our dehumanization of ourselves; the loss of our own identity is the price we pay for our annulment of his.”

        James Baldwin

      • Marnie on July 30, 2016, 12:33 am

        Jon66 –
        The physician doth protest too much, methinks. Or
        Physician, heal thyself.

        The Congressman was talking about settlements when he made the apt, perfect analogy to termites. As termites undermine structures they live in, settlements undermine the structure of normal life for everyone around them. You’re making an issue where there isn’t one.

        The James Baldwin quote doesn’t work here, unless of course you are referring to your baseless attacks on Congressman Johnson.

  4. xanadou on July 27, 2016, 6:07 pm

    “(…) Palestinians living under Israel’s nearly 50-year-old repressive military occupation regime.”

    Not 50-, but 68+ y/o repressive, etc…

  5. oneangrycomic on July 27, 2016, 6:41 pm

    I could understand if lawyers representing termites sued Johnson for comparing them to ILLEGAL SQUATERS!

  6. JLewisDickerson on July 28, 2016, 3:31 am

    ■ Georgia GOP [entirely controlled by the Christian fundamentalists J.L.D. ] calls for Hank Johnson to resign after he likens Israel’s settlement policy to ‘termites’ –

    ■ TAKE ACTION – Jewish Voice for Peace: Please Thank Rep. Hank Johnson –

  7. MHughes976 on July 28, 2016, 10:39 am

    Termites are famous both for undermining structures that appear to be the solid and, as I remember, for creating mighty mounds that sometimes dominate the landscape. The settlement process might be thought to be termite-like in both these ways, except that you have to be wilfully self-deceived to see anything solid about the 2ss process in the first place. To use this metaphor is to speak with horror of the dark determination of the people responsible, who are by no means only the settlers themselves. There is no point in using words that express horror and then going all defensive and claiming, in the most annoying of cliches (maybe I use it sometimes), to have been taken out of context. What context would mitigate the horror expressed? Why should the horror expressed be mitigated? I think that the likeliest answer is that one should never express horror when the alleged wrongdoers are all of one race, because morality at that rate becomes racism: but I think it almost obvious that this principle a not be valid universally.

  8. Yakov Hirsch on July 29, 2016, 3:55 pm

    Mooser you inspired me. Termites been getting worse press than Donald Trump the last few days. So felt compelled to write something in defense of termites and termite analogies. Its In the hands of the editors here at Mondoweiss. Can now go back now to war gaming my campaign against Jeffrey Goldberg.

    • gamal on July 29, 2016, 4:19 pm

      now man be honest you got us all excited bring me the head of Jeffrey Goldberg,

      termite analogies, ok don’t you guys have to pay the vig or something, so ok termite analogies buys you a week, and don’t be selling any arachnid similes next week, we want Jeffrey and thats not metaphorical,

      i hope you don’t plan to disappoint with any schutzhund nonsense, treat it like a game but still we have taken hold and we won’t let go.

    • Mooser on July 29, 2016, 4:27 pm

      Looking forward to the Goldberg articles.

    • Mooser on July 29, 2016, 10:10 pm

      “Can now go back now to war gaming my campaign against Jeffrey Goldberg.”

      I’ll be patient. Post-election may be the better time. He seems to be holding himself aloof from the fray lately.

  9. JoeSmack on August 1, 2016, 3:17 am

    Oh good, you didn’t hire a lawyer to look through everything he’s ever written to characterize him as a creeping Nazi apologist the way you did with Alison Weir. Thanks guys, I wasn’t sure how you’d react.

    • silamcuz on August 1, 2016, 7:03 am

      Huh what? Alison Weir is associated with many folks who can be characterized as a Nazi apologists, but that’s on her. Why attack people who choose to not associate with her?

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