Georgia Democrat meets Jewish groups after ‘termites’ apology
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Georgia Democrat meets Jewish groups after ‘termites’ apology

Rep. Hank Johnson says encounter helped ‘to open important dialogue’ in wake of his comments on settlers

Rep. Hank Johnson speaks at Georgia Piedmont Technical College in Clarkston, GA, in February 2016. (Courtesy)
Rep. Hank Johnson speaks at Georgia Piedmont Technical College in Clarkston, GA, in February 2016. (Courtesy)

WASHINGTON — Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia met with Jewish leaders in Atlanta after apologizing for likening the settlement movement to termites.

“Appreciate meeting w/ @AJCGlobal today to open important dialogue,” Johnson said in a tweet Tuesday after meeting with the local office of the American Jewish Committee.

The AJC office tweeted soon after: “Thank you @RepHankJohnson for addressing our concerns & your sincere apology. #buildingbridges.”

Johnson, addressing an event organized by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation during last week’s Democratic convention in Philadelphia, had said settlements were “almost like termites [that] can get into a residence and eat before you know that you’ve been eaten up and you fall in on yourself.”

After criticism from the Anti-Defamation League, he apologized for what he said in a tweet was a “poor choice of words” but added: “Point is settlement activity continues slowly undermine 2-state solution.”

When ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a response that describing settlement as “termites” deserved an apology with no further rationalization, Johnson, in a subsequent tweet, agreed.

“You’re right @JGreenblattADL I sincerely apologize for the offensive analogy. Period,” he said.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Johnson also met with The Atlanta Jewish Times, which in an editorial had condemned his remarks.

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