Tlaib, Omar and the B.D.S. Movement—Oy!

As always, any discussion of Israel is complicated and often a mess to untangle and process. Tlaib and Omar are U.S. Congresswomen and perhaps I’m naïve, but I expect more from our representatives. It’s so hard to listen to the intentionally misleading comments by these women. As a woman, and one who has always fought to support equality, I am always excited (at first glance at least) that women’s voices are being heard. But then again, just being a woman is never the reason to support a cause—that would be as illconceived as not supporting programs because they are promoted by women.

Being a Jew, also a minority, predisposes me to listen to what these women have to say. My ears perk up when a woman speaks, especially a minority, but then %$@#! Often what these women have had to say is anti-Semitic. I don’t support them.

Listening closely, it pains me to hear how they portray their visit to Israel that was denied initially. Tlaib uses her 90-year-old grandmother as a pawn for sympathy. Shame on her. She claims that Israel won’t allow her to see her grandmother—but why is that? It sounds awful and who wouldn’t feel badly for her as she cried on camera? She often politically uses her grandmother when speaking her anti-Israel rhetoric because it creates in people’s minds a horrible image of Israel preventing her from visiting her sitty (grandmother in Arabic).

But why then when Israel reversed their decision and said she could visit her grandma, didn’t she jump at the chance? Why has she waited 10 years to visit anyway? The recent law that prevented her entrance was enacted in 2017, she could have visited long ago.

But that wasn’t really what she wanted. Israel’s Foreign Minister Deri declared, “I approved it [her visit to see her grandmother] for humanitarian reasons, but it turns out that it was a provocation to embarrass Israel. Her hatred for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother.” 1 She used her grandmother for political maneuvering.

Omar has been quoted in the news with anti-Semitic comments such as “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” and her accusing American Jews of having inappropriate dual allegiance to the U.S. and Israel. This type of thinking is what our new Democratic leaders in Congress are espousing? It’s depressing and dangerous.

Why was their visit denied by Israel? Tlaib and Omar both are supporters of the B.D.S. movement, which stands for Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel. The truth about B.D.S. is that their intention is the complete destruction of Israel, which they want replaced by Palestine. In their protests they sing, “From the rivers to the sea, Palestine will be free!”

The denial of their visit was because it is against Israel’s 2017 law to let B.D.S. supporters into the country.  As usual everything about Israel is knotted with twists and turns. The law gives me an uncomfortable and confused feeling given Israel is the only democracy in the region, but this law is on their books.

Justifying the denial of entry into Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to the Congresswomen’s itinerary, which he said “reveals that the sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel and increase incitement against it.”2 Their visit reflected only a one-sided bias in favor of the Palestinian agenda.

I understand what the B.D.S. says about Israel is reprehensible, but as an American I can’t help but believe in their right to say it. I also understand how difficult it would be to listen to their rhetoric and want it to be silenced.

It seems disrespectful to Congress, to keep two of their members from visiting, yet the primary proponent to keep them from going on the trip was President Trump. What’s Israel to do?

Instead of going to Israel with their other colleagues—41 Democrats and 31 Republicans, Tlaib, Omar and also Ocasio-Cortez (3 out of the 4 in the “Squad”) refused to participate on the trip. Tlaib and Omar arranged their own tour.

The organization that planned their trip is Miftah, an organization that glorifies suicide bombers and is clearly anti-Semitic. Miftah has been condemned for a number of reasons, not least of which is posting an article referring to the Jewish blood libel that claims Jews put Christian blood into making their Passover matzah and a skewed article of a neo-Nazi account called “Who Rules America: The Alien Grip on Our News and Entertainment Media Must Be Broken” stating that Jews rule and distort the media, to name a couple instances of their bias.4

So much of what the B.D.S. movement claims is an attempt to say that Israel is an apartheid state, which is not true. They call the security barrier erected an “apartheid wall” and they complain about the time it takes to get past the checkpoints. It wasn’t erected as a discriminatory obstacle, but for protection from Palestinian terrorists.

I’m not sure what the Palestinians expect, given their constant terrorist attacks against Israel that in their culture is rewarded. Salaries are paid to their remaining families for a job well done. If you kill yourself while trying to murder Israelis (the Palestinians refer to what they consider their heroes as martyrs) — the more Jews killed, the higher the salary. Additional bonuses are schools named after them to honor these “martyrs” for their good deeds. This is the convoluted culture that they promote to their people, including their children that we see on the news throwing rocks at the IDF.

Even more upsetting, the Jerusalem Post reported that Palestinian kindergarten children have been documented simulating terror attacks complete with using “drones, body cameras, military fatigues, body armor and sniper camouflage.”  The NGO Monitor claimed, not for the first time that again, “On May 26, 2018, children at the Dar al Huda kindergarten in Gaza took part in a graduation ceremony that included the mock killing and kidnapping of Israelis while dressed as Palestinian Islamic Jihad combatants.”5

The Israelis can’t simply let the Palestinians walk into Israel without checking that they don’t have hidden weapons. Throughout the world including the U.S., we go through checkpoints as well, like at the airport. However, these multiple checkpoints have thousands of Palestinians (estimated at 70,000)3 squeezing through to go to their jobs in Israel, which takes hours. It truly is a mess that promotes anger and feelings of persecution that has gone on for years. Nothing in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship seems to have easy answers.

So often when I listen to B.D.S. or Palestinian issues I always feel like the first part of their sentences have been chopped off. They complain as if Israel is just implementing hardships on them—without the fact of exposing what they have done to cause Israel to react. What do I mean? They complain about the barrier or checkpoints and call it apartheid, as if Israel is using these safety measures because they are Palestinians with darker skin. Really?

What about the continuous terror attacks encouraged by their Palestinian Authority leaders? Bombings, shootings, stabbings, car rammings, and incendiary devices are targeted at Israelis. In the U.S. we are reeling from the recent attacks in our own country, but Israel has often contended with daily attacks for years. I pray we never are in the same situation.

But nothing is simple and straightforward with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. How could there be Peace if the Palestinians want to replace all of Israel with Palestine? How could there be Peace if the Palestinian leaders refuse to negotiate with Israel?

Maybe there is one thing that could be easily implemented and the right thing to do…STOP PERFORMING AND ENCOURAGING TERRORISM! Maybe then both sides would be more open to reconciliation—the only long-term viable solution. Peace, שלום, سلام

I invite you to join me on my journey…

 

Endnotes:

1 Rep. Tlaib says she will not go to Israel after the country initially rejected her request for a visit, then reversed course, Ruth Eglash, James McAuley and John Wagner, Washington Post—,   August 16, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/after-ban-israel-approves-humanitarian-request-from-tlaib-to-visit-grandmother-in-west-bank/2019/08/16/fa073138-c002-11e9-a8b0-7ed8a0d5dc5d_story.html

2 Here’s what Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were going to do on their trip to Israel and the West Bank, Ben Sales, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, August 16, 2019,  https://www.jta.org/2019/08/16/politics/heres-what-ilhan-omar-and-rashida-tlaib-were-going-to-do-on-their-trip-to-israel-and-the-west-bank

3A Palestinian’s daily commute through an Israeli checkpoint, William Booth and Sufian Taha, The Washington Post, May 25, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/world/occupied/checkpoint/?utm_term=.89fae5af2c1e

4 Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib Partnered with Vicious Anti-Semites to Plan Their Trip to Israel, David French, National Review, August 16, 2019, https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/08/ilhan-omar-and-rashida-tlaib-partnered-with-vicious-anti-semites-to-plan-their-trip-to-israel/

5 Children Simulate Terror Attacks in Palestinian Kindergarten, Jerusalem Post Staff, September 1, 2019, https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Children-simulate-terror-attacks-in-Palestinian-kindergarten-600292

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