News Release

New Dem Leader Jeffries “Has Record of Defending Human Rights Violations”



Zunes is professor of politics at the University of San Francisco.

In Congress, Hakeem Jeffries is now the House Democratic Leader — he was elected unanimously. Zunes just wrote the piece “Democrats’ New House Leader Has Record of Defending Human Rights Violations” which highlights Jeffries’ record on Israel. Zunes notes that he is close to the rightwing American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Indeed, AIPAC and similar pro-Israeli groups are three of Jeffries’ top five funders.

Zunes highlights that while virtually all members of Congress are supportive of Israel on some level, Jeffries is more extreme than most Democrats.

He writes: “Jeffries has been highly critical of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as Israeli human rights groups like B’tselem, for their recognition of Israel’s imposition of an apartheid system on Palestinians. Despite the overwhelming evidence in human rights reports that Israel’s policies meet the international definition of apartheid, Jeffries has dismissed the conclusions.”

Zunes goes on to discuss how Jeffries has attempted to abrogate the right to free speech: “In 2018, Jeffries co-sponsored a bill which would have effectively criminalized support for boycotts against Israel or companies doing business in the country or its occupied territories. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act would have made it a crime to support or even furnish information about a boycott directed at Israel or the Israeli occupation supported by any entity of the United Nations, the European Union, or other international governmental organization. The penalties were draconian, including fines of up to $1 million and up to 20 years imprisonment.”

Zunes continues: “Jeffries has gone as far as defending Israeli war crimes. In response to international outrage at Israel’s 2014 war on the Gaza Strip, which killed nearly 1,500 civilians — roughly one-third of whom were children — he insisted it was all legitimate self-defense.”

Zunes writes that such maneuvers by Democrats in Congress are not new and have historically had harmful effects. House Democrats similarly “backed Rep. John McCormack in the 1960s despite his vocal support for the Vietnam War, contributing to alienation with the two-party system.”