Nearly everything Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib said in their two-woman production of “Israel is Evil” on Monday was untrue. Let’s, for now, focus on one of the duo’s central claims.
Omar and Tlaib contend they were denied entry into the Jewish state because of their faith, while fellow sitting members of Congress were not. It’s simply untrue. Both Omar and Tlaib could easily have joined a group of 70 of their colleagues and met with Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials—if a trip is supposedly part of their “duties,” as they assert, to learn about the situation on the ground.
Instead, they planned a separate trip to “Palestine” with an itinerary designed by Miftah, a group that has long praised suicide bombers and, as any good antisemites do, claimed that “Jews [use] the blood of Christians in the Jewish Passover.” (You know, we hear a lot these days about how the GOP is infested with white supremacists, but I have yet to run across a single instance of an elected Republican member of Congress allying himself with group that spreads blood libel. I imagine such a pairing would be a pretty notable story.)
Even then, Tlaib, who hadn’t visited her poor Sity for 13 years before her election to Congress, had asked to see her on humanitarian grounds. Israel granted the request as long as Tlaib, now travelling as a private citizen, refrained from antisemitic BDS public protests during her stay.
No country is under a moral obligation to issue visas to foreigners who actively engage in efforts to harm its citizens, much less abet their activities. And BDS’s goal is to bring economic ruin to the democratic Jewish state—not only to Netanyahu or to Likud voters or to “settlers,” but to every citizen in the country, including the nearly two million Arabs who live there.
Tlaib must have agreed, because she signed a letter acquiescing to those terms on congressional stationary. Only once granted permission by Israel did she break into her performance mode, claiming that visiting her family without being able to engage in activism amounted to “oppressive conditions.”
“Through tears, at three o’clock in the morning, we all decided as a family that I could not go until I was a free, American, United States Congresswoman coming there, not only to see my grandmother but to talk to Palestinian and Israeli organizations that believed that my grandmother deserves human dignity as much as anyone else does,” she said.
To paraphrase (perhaps) Golda Meier, the fact that Tlaib is more invested in hating Jews than seeing her grandmother is a microcosm of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. After all, spending time with an elderly family member for few days, maybe for the last time, would in no way inhibit Tlaib from demonizing Israel when she got back. Then again, accepting Israel’s humanitarian courtesy would be politically inconvenient.
Instead, the Michigan congresswomen used her press conference to relay stories about family members—many of them American citizens—who have been singled out for various degradations at the hands of the Israelis. I’m skeptical any of these stories are true. But here is a fact that is: hundreds of American citizens have been wounded and murdered by Palestinian terrorists during her lifetime. That’s why Sity is inconvenienced.
Only last year an American citizen named Ari Fuld was stabbed to death. In the infamous 2001 Sbarro pizzeria bombing, 15 people, seven children, were murdered by a female bomber. Among them, six US citizens were hurt, and two were killed—including a two-year-old girl. Since 2001, the Palestinian Authority has paid those responsible for her murder nearly $1 million.
This kind of violence goes back at least to the progroms of the 1920s. The Sbarro bombing came on the heels of Palestinian leadership rejecting yet another peace deal. It wasn’t a deal authored by the Likud party or by Netanyahu, but the center-left Israeli government.
President Bill Clinton, not George W. Bush or Donald Trump, brokered the negotiations. Clinton would later, on numerous occasions, blame the Palestinians for walking away from a generous deal that included virtually everything Yasser Arafat had asked for, other than the “right of return” — which, of course, would be suicide for Israel.
Instead of embracing peace, Fatah, Hamas, Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Islamic Jihad, and others initiated a concerted war on civilians, with hundreds of suicide bombings and terrorist attacks that led to the murder of 1,000 Israelis and tens of thousands of cheering Palestinians.
The present-day checkpoints and wall system that Tlaib is complaining about were built to combat the nihilistic violence she will never condemn. The walls worked, of course, with bombing attacks dropping to nearly zero since then (if you don’t count the thousands of rockets that are launched from Gaza every year.)
And if the congresswoman wants to know why her Sity can’t easily go to a hospital in Jerusalem, well, it’s because ambulances and medical service trucks have been used to hide suicide bombers and weapons. Why aren’t there quality hospitals in the West Bank? Because corrupt Palestinian leaders, who have been given widespread autonomy and huge amounts of international aid, don’t build them for her.
The idea that Israel erected walls out of an innate racist desire to punish Muslims (millions of whom live peacefully, vote, and freely express themselves in Israel in ways they can’t anywhere in the Islamic world), is a vacuous leftist fairy tale.
There is no doubt that checkpoints and walls inconvenience many Arabs—although far fewer than Tlaib insinuates—but they also save lives. That’s not only the lives of Israelis but also the lives of those who would die in the retaliatory strikes against terror organizations that often hide behind women and children.
If Tlaib’s grandmother has had her dignity denied someone, it’s by a government that refuses to engage in good-faith peace efforts for the past 55 years to help its own people. Tlaib can blame the Palestinian Authority for Sity’s troubles.