The anti-Is­rael lobby

Reps. Tlaib and Omar are on a mis­sion to de­fame and de-le­git­imize the Jewish state

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Clif­ford D. May

I’m a stick­ler for sovereignt­y. Sovereign na­tions have bor­ders and their lead­ers de­cide who gets to cross them. Ex­clud­ing in­di­vid­u­als who are hos­tile or even just ob­jec­tion­able is com­mon prac­tice. Among those who have not been per­mit­ted to come to Amer­ica: Michael Ben Ari, a far-right Is­raeli leg­is­la­tor, and Narendra Modi, ac­cused of do­ing too lit­tle to pre­vent anti-Mus­lim ri­ots in 2002, and now In­dia’s prime min­is­ter.

Un­less Is­rael is to be held to a sep­a­rate and un­equal stan­dard, its lead­ers must en­joy the same right, which they ex­er­cised by de­clin­ing to wel­come Il­han Omar and Rashida Tlaib.

The dom­i­nant me­dia nar­ra­tive is that Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu ex­cluded the two far-left con­gress­women in def­er­ence to Pres­i­dent Trump, who had tweeted that they “hate Is­rael & all Jewish peo­ple, & there is noth­ing that can be said or done to change their minds.” Per­haps that did in­flu­ence the prime min­is­ter’s think­ing, but other fac­tors un­doubt­edly were weighed as well. Al­low me to men­tion a few.

House Ma­jor­ity Leader Steny Hoyer in­vited Reps. Omar and Tlaib to join a bi­par­ti­san del­e­ga­tion that went to Is­rael and the West Bank ear­lier this month. They pre­ferred not to ac­com­pany their col­leagues.

Sep­a­rately, the Is­raeli govern­ment granted a re­quest by Rep. Tlaib to en­ter the West Bank to visit rel­a­tives, ask­ing only that she not use the oc­ca­sion to pro­mote boy­cotts against Is­rael. She said no deal.

The itin­er­ary for their trip was ti­tled: “Del­e­ga­tion to Pales­tine.” That strikes me as eras­ing Is­rael from the map. When they landed at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gu­rion Air­port, where did they think they would be?

They were plan­ning to meet with in­di­vid­u­als and groups di­rectly tied to ter­ror­ism and anti-Semitism. Among them: Shawan Jabarin, iden­ti­fied by Is­rael’s Supreme Court as a se­nior mem­ber of the Pop­u­lar Front for the Lib­er­a­tion of Pales­tine, a Marx­ist-Lenin­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion re­spon­si­ble for air­plane hi­jack­ings and sui­cide bomb­ings, and des­ig­nated as a ter­ror­ist en­tity by the U.S., Ja­pan, Canada, Aus­tralia and the Euro­pean Union.

Or­ga­niz­ing their visit was Mif­tah, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that in 2013 pub­lished an ar­ti­cle al­leg­ing that Jews use Chris­tian blood for their Passover matzahs — a very old and very sick li­bel.

Mif­tah also pub­lished “an Amer­i­can neoNazi trea­tise” called “Who Rules Amer­ica: The Alien Grip on Our News and En­ter­tain­ment Me­dia must be Bro­ken.” Ap­par­ently, to Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Omar, white supremacy in

defense of Jew-ha­tred is no vice.

Re­flect on this hypocrisy: While Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Omar sup­port boy­cotting Is­raelis they pro­fess out­rage that Is­raelis might choose to boy­cott them.

More specif­i­cally, they sup­port BDS (for boy­cott, di­vest and sanc­tion). Con­sid­er­ing that the Nazi slogan in the 1930s was, “Don’t buy from Jews,” how sur­pris­ing is it that Is­raelis hear an echo in the BDS slogan, “Don’t buy from the Jewish state”?

Bill Ma­her called BDS a “bull­shit pu­rity test by peo­ple who want to ap­pear ‘woke’ but ac­tu­ally slept through his­tory class.” Demon­strat­ing yet more hypocrisy, Ms. Tlaib re­sponded by call­ing for a boy­cott of his tele­vi­sion show.

The goal of BDS, as stated by its founder and leader, Omar Bargh­outi, is Is­rael’s ex­ter­mi­na­tion. “Def­i­nitely, most def­i­nitely we op­pose a Jewish state in any part of Pales­tine,” he has said on video. “No Pales­tinian, ra­tional Pales­tinian, not a sell-out Pales­tinian, will ever ac­cept a Jewish state in Pales­tine.”

Some BDS ad­vo­cates quib­ble that they merely want Is­raelis to with­draw from the “oc­cu­pied ter­ri­to­ries.” But af­ter Is­raelis with­drew from Gaza — which Is­raelis had seized from Egypt, not Pales­tini­ans, in the de­fen­sive war of 1967 — Ha­mas took over, and be­gan at­tack­ing Is­raelis with mis­siles, ter­ror­ist tun­nels and in­cen­di­ary kites. Ha­mas is can­did about its in­ten­tions to­ward Is­raelis: They are geno­ci­dal.

Were Is­rael to with­draw from the West Bank with­out guar­an­tees of peace and se­cu­rity, Ha­mas al­most cer­tainly would take power, and launch more at­tacks. Is­raelis would re­spond. Both Jews and Pales­tini­ans would be killed. BDS ad­vo­cates such as Reps. Tlaib and Omar ap­pear un­trou­bled by that even­tu­al­ity.

This, too, should not go un­re­marked: In Syria, more than half a million peo­ple have been slaugh­tered, and mil­lions left home­less thanks to a war that con­tin­ues to this day. The Si­nai is oc­cu­pied by Is­lamist ter­ror­ists tar­get­ing the govern­ment of Egypt. Ye­men is a wartorn dis­as­ter. The suf­fer­ing of the peo­ple of the West Bank is, ob­jec­tively, less dire, and could be sig­nif­i­cantly re­lieved were their lead­ers to agree to peace­fully co­ex­ist with Is­rael.

For all that, I do won­der if Mr. Ne­tanyahu might have man­aged to beat the defama­tion and de-le­git­imiza­tion cam­paign that Ms. Omar and Ms. Tlaib planned to wage.

What if he had as­signed them a se­cu­rity de­tail com­posed of Is­raelis whose par­ents had been res­cued from Ethiopia and Su­dan? (If you don’t know the heroic story be­hind the lib­er­a­tion of Africa’s black Jews watch “Red Sea Div­ing Re­sort” now avail­able on Netflix.)

What if he had sug­gested they visit Sderot, one of the Is­raeli towns near Gaza where bomb shel­ters are in ev­ery chil­dren’s play­ground?

What if he had in­vited them to meet with prom­i­nent Is­raeli cit­i­zens — in­clud­ing Jews, Arabs, Mus­lims, Chris­tians and Druze? Do the con­gress­women deny that Is­rael’s mi­nori­ties have rights de­nied to even the ma­jori­ties in the Arab and Mus­lim na­tions of the Mid­dle East?

Might this have led to less pub­lic re­la­tions dam­age for Is­rael than that which Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Omar have been able to in­flict over the last few days? I don’t know. Is­raelis have never been adept at PR. What Is­raelis — and in­deed the Jewish na­tion — have demon­strated in­stead: A tal­ent for sur­viv­ing, and even thriv­ing, de­spite the ha­tred and vi­o­lence di­rected at them by so many en­e­mies over so many cen­turies. Clif­ford D. May is founder and pres­i­dent of the Foun­da­tion for Defense of Democ­ra­cies (FDD) and a colum­nist for the Wash­ing­ton Times.

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