Barring antisemitic House members from visiting Israel is morally right

Tlaib and Omar’s itinerary avoided meeting any Israeli government officials. Obviously, this trip was intended as a propaganda effort to harm Israel.

September 3, 2019 14:12
3 minute read.
Barring antisemitic House members from visiting Israel is morally right

US PRESIDENT Donald Trump takes on US Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. Are American Jews stuck between a rock and hard place?. (photo credit: REUTERS)

As we have come to expect in the atmosphere of today’s politics, issues are commonly spun and twisted for personal and political advantage. This is no less true in the story of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib’s denied entry into Israel. While they exclaim loudly to the world that Israel has insulted the US Congress with its decision, they quietly neglect to mention their unapologetic stance against the Jewish state that arises from a long history of antisemitism. In fact, using their position as a façade to mask their extremist personal views is the real atrocity. It is the dangerous, calculated tactic that should be viewed as an affront to Congress.

BDS was designed to strangle Israel into total economic collapse. In 2017, Israel passed a law allowing prevention of BDS advocates from visiting Israel. It is not disputed that Tlaib and Omar support the BDS movement. The government allowed an exception in the law that allows BDS-supporting politicians to visit Israel so that their actually seeing the reality on the ground would provide them a balanced view. However, Tlaib and Omar’s itinerary avoided meeting any Israeli government officials. Obviously, this trip was intended as a propaganda effort to harm Israel.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) adopted a working definition of antisemitism. The US State Department and Florida have also adopted this definition, as have the UK, Germany and France. One example cited by the IHRA of antisemitism is denying the Jewish people the right to “self-determination.” Thus, opposing the existence of the State of Israel meets the criteria for antisemitism.

In May, when Hamas fired more than 700 missiles at Israeli civilians resulting in four deaths and numerous injuries, Tlaib and Omar blamed only Israel and the “occupation” without denouncing the targeting of innocent civilians.

Omar tweeted that “the status quo of occupation... is unsustainable.” Is she not aware that Israel completely and unconditionally withdrew from Gaza in 2005? Gaza is entirely run by Hamas, whose Covenant Article 7 states that: “the Day of Judgment will not come until Muslims fight Jews and kill them.” Hamas clearly calls for Israel’s destruction. Likewise, to conflate civilians on Israeli soil with the “occupation” is in line with Hamas’s extremist view that Palestine should be “from the river to the sea.”

Tlaib and Omar’s support for PA President Mahmoud Abbas – whose “pay-for-slay” policy provides incentives and channels millions of shekels to terrorists – is well-known. Naming Palestinian squares and schools after murderers of civilians is not surprising, as Abbas himself financed the Olympic Munich Massacre and has written a book denying the murder of six million Jews in the Holocaust.

A resolution passed by the House of Representatives (H.R. 183) seeking to “ensure safety” for the Jewish people says that, “accusing Jews of being more loyal to Israel or to the Jewish community than to the US constitutes antisemitism.” Clause 1 denounces the myth of alleged dual loyalty, especially in the context of support for the United States-Israel alliance.

This resolution was passed in response to Omar’s comments, with Tlaib by her side, that supporters of a strong US-Israel relationship “push allegiance to a foreign country.” On January 6, Tlaib criticized Republican Sen. Marco Rubio’s effort to punish those attempting to boycott Israel with a tweet saying, “they forgot what country they represent.” Rubio commented, “the ‘dual loyalty’ canard is a typical antisemitic line.” Neither Tlaib nor Omar have apologized for any of these statements.

Noted white supremacist David Duke recently praised Omar’s anti-Israel statements, calling her “the most important member of the new Congress.” Duke also shares Tlaib and Omar’s support for BDS. What if a white supremacist sympathizer like Duke – Rep. Steve King – theoretically supported the BDS movement and Israel decided to deny him entry? Would any of the Democratic leadership criticize Israel if they banned King because of his position? The answer is obvious. Like King, Tlaib and Omar must be immediately denounced and removed from all House committees.

Israel’s position on this issue should be viewed as a defense of, not an affront to, the integrity of the US Congress – which must never be used to disguise or support any form of bigotry, including the hateful antisemitic views of Tlaib and Omar. The tragic consequence of all of this is that the absence of immediate action by House leadership against them is the subtle normalization of antisemitism as a legitimate alternative viewpoint.

The writer is president of the National Council of Young Israel and president of the Law Firm of Weiss & Moy.

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