Israeli Nation-State Law is ‘Apartheid,’ Says Democratic Congresswoman

Coverage by The Forward of Rep. Betty McCollum’s groundbreaking speech at USCPR’s 2018 national conference, Together We Rise:

A Democratic congresswoman described Israel’s nation-state law as “apartheid” at a Palestinian rights event, Mondoweiss reported last week.

Accepting a leadership award at the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights conference on September 30, Rep. Betty McCollum said that Israel’s policies were “brutal” and “cruel” and explained her bill to end U.S. funding for the detention of Palestinian children.

McCollum didn’t hold back when describing the law, which defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

“Friends, the world has a name of that form of government that’s codified in the nation state law, and it’s called apartheid,” she said.

Following her speech, USCPR executive director Yousef Munayyer sent an email to supporters praising the congresswoman for using “apartheid” to refer to Israeli policies. “This moment is a benchmark in a narrative shift we have all been working towards for a long time,” Munayyer wrote.

The nation-state law has also been condemned by Israel’s liberal parties and mainstream diaspora Jewish groups like the Jewish Federations of North America.

McCollum said that she doesn’t see criticizing Israel as an act of anti-Semitism.

“Why can’t I hold a foreign government accountable for how they abuse an entire population of people under their control?” she asked the crowd.

McCollum, who has represented St. Paul in Congress since 2001, is endorsed by the left-wing Jewish group J Street.