On Saturday evening, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., tweeted her sadness about the terrorist bombing that took the life of 17-year-old Israeli Rina Shnerb. Shnerb was hiking with her brother and father at the Ein Bubin Spring in the West Bank on August 23 when a bomb was “triggered remotely when [Rina’s] family approached it.” Rina’s brother and father were injured in the attack.
Palestinian-American Tlaib’s tweet took a rapid shift from emotional outpouring to launching guilt at Israel: “More than ever,” she wrote, “we need to support nonviolent approaches to ending the Israeli occupation and guaranteeing equal rights for all. Extremism that puts innocent lives at risk moves us no closer to peace.”
As did the organization whose statement she retweeted, Tlaib implied that policies of the Jewish state of Israel were somehow to blame for the heinous actions of terrorists who detonated a bomb. It was hardly a surprising turn of events for the freshman representative, who often uses her public bullhorn to spread anti-Israel propaganda and bad Holocaust history.
Terrorist organization Hamas called the bombing “proof of the vitality and bravery of the Palestinian people.” According to the Israel Defense Forces, Palestinians celebrated Rina’s death by passing out candies.
August Has Been a Deadly Month
Perhaps Tlaib is not aware that Shnerb’s murder was only the most recent attack against Israelis in what has been a deadly month for America’s ally. Israel and its policies are no more to blame for the death of Shnerb than they are for this month’s series of cowardly attacks.
On August 7, 18-year-old yeshiva student Dvir Sorek was stabbed to death by two Palestinian men in the Etzion settlement in the West Bank. According to the Israeli army, the two men may have attempted to kidnap Sorek, and killed him in their vehicle before throwing him onto the street. When Sorek’s body was discovered, he was still clutching the books he had just purchased in Jerusalem. They were meant to be gifts for his teachers.
After Sorek’s death, the Palestinian Authority (PA) passed out candy in celebration, while leaders called Sorek’s murder “‘a heroic operation’ and ‘a natural response to the Israeli occupation’s crimes.’” Visible during Sorek’s solemn funeral service was a display of fireworks from Palestinians celebrating Sorek’s death in a nearby village.
On August 11, Tisha B’Av, a Jewish fast day, coincided with Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, leading to a confrontation at the al-Aqsa Mosque, also known as the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City. After an Eid al-Adha prayer, thousands of Muslims moved toward the Mughrabi Gate, the only gate non-Muslims may use to approach the Temple Mount, and began “throwing rocks and other objects at police.”
Israeli police used “dispersal means,” including tear gas, to respond to the riot, injuring 61 Muslims involved. Four members of the Israeli police were also wounded during the event. Contrary to fact, the spokesman of the PA President Mahmoud Abbas claimed that Israeli police had “storm[ed] the al-Aqsa Mosque and act[ed] aggressively against worshippers.”
On August 15, video captured a horrific terror attack near the Shalshelet Gate in the Old City, in which two Palestinian teens ran towards an Israeli police officer and began to stab him. Other officers at the scene fired on the teens, killing one. The second attacker was sent to the hospital, as was the officer, who had sustained a chest wound.
On August 16, near the Elazar settlement in the West Bank, a Palestinian Fatah member who had previously been jailed for acts of terror rammed a stolen car into two Israeli siblings. The 17-year-old brother, who suffered a fractured skull, underwent neurosurgery, and was sedated and on a respirator the day after the attack. His 19-year-old sister experienced injuries to her limbs.
Blame the Palestinian Authority’s ‘Pay for Slay’
If Tlaib is concerned about the impetus of the act of terror that killed Shnerb, she should look first to the PA, which offers incredible monetary incentives to Palestinians who launch such despicable terrorist attacks on Israelis.
In a policy known as “pay for slay,” the PA motivates attacks against Israeli “occupiers” by paying the perpetrators and their families a monthly stipend. “The more egregious the crime,” according to an op-ed from The Hill, “the more you get paid. Campsites, schools, clinics are named after so-called martyrs who kill innocent Jews.”
Every year, the PA pays out more than $330 million, or 7 percent of its budget, to those who attack Israelis. These funds, as explained in a January 2019 Washington Examiner op-ed, are distributed to “approximately 10,500 imprisoned and released prisoners and some 37,500 families of martyrs and injured.” In comparison, the PA’s welfare budget of $214 million is distributed between “118,000 households: a much larger group subsisting on a much smaller budget.”
In his description of the motivators for “pay for slay,” Army Lt. Col. Charles Faint mentions the 2004 law providing these payments. According to this law, the funds are provided for those “participating in the struggle against the occupation,” as they are “an integral part of the fabric of the Arab-Palestinian society.” Faint notes that “struggles” can involve anything “from throwing rocks to murdering American tourists.”
Here Faint refers to American Taylor Force, a Vanderbilt University student and former Army officer who was stabbed to death in Jaffa in 2016 while visiting Israel with his fellow graduate students. A West Bank political group referred to Force’s killer as “a ‘heroic martyr,’ and instituted payments to his family.”
Prior to 2018, Faint states the United States distributed around $300 million to the PA each year. With the passage of the Taylor Force Act in March 2018, all U.S. aid to the PA, except for some humanitarian funds, will cease until “pay for slay” is discontinued. Other countries, such as Australia and Israel, have followed suit.
Even as donor countries considered pulling funds from the PA, however, Abbas defended “pay for slay,” saying the program fulfilled “a social responsibility to look after innocent people affected by the incarceration or killing of their loved ones.”
Other Lies Tlaib Spreads about Israel
On Saturday, Tlaib called for a state that would guarantee “equal rights for all.” The 120-member body of the Knesset, Israel’s House of Representatives, includes 5 LGBTQ members, 12 non-Jews, and 29 women.
In comparison, earlier this month, the PA “banned LGBTQ organizations from operating in the West Bank,” stating LGBTQ events “go against and infringe upon the higher principles and values of Palestinian society.” While a Palestinian news agency claimed in 2018 that a single member of the Palestinian National Council, Uri Davis, is Jewish, Davis converted back to Islam in 2008.
Tlaib regularly makes false and dangerous allegations about Israel, like remarking on the country’s alleged “racism and…international human rights violations,” likening Israel to “the apartheid in South Africa,” and conflating Palestinians’ fight against Israel with the American fight for civil rights.
Once considered fringe and hateful beliefs, Tlaib’s statements now get unprecedented air time and are becoming normalized. Countering such drivel with facts seems to be a full-time occupation. Luckily, groups like the Anti-Defamation League methodically and factually counter these types of flawed allegations so Americans can readily educate themselves about the types and varieties of antisemitic attacks launched at our ally with increasing force and regularity.
While Tlaib’s sorrow about Shnerb’s death appears real, the representative must recognize how the falsehoods she spreads help to delegitimize, demonize, and disenfranchise the Jewish state of Israel. The words she uses to blame Israel for the actions of terrorists are not unlike the words of those who claim Israel is the aggressor while paying terrorists handsomely to conduct attacks against innocent Israelis.
If our congresswoman continues to offer a shallow, one-sided truths about the Israel-Palestine conflict and fails to address the PA’s “pay to slay” laws, or the cult of “heroic martyrdom” granted to those who kill Israelis, then it is the duty of every American who supports Israel to learn the truth and speak up loudly against Tlaib’s emotionally charged lies.