Tlaib’s trip down selective memory lane

August 23, 2019 14:03
Tlaib’s trip down selective memory lane

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) listens to testimony during a hearing of the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee on "Confronting White Supremacy (Part I): The Consequences of Inaction" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 15, 2019. (photo credit: JOSHUA ROBERTS / REUTERS)

If US Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan moved me to tears this week, they were tears of frustration. I watched the news conference she gave with Ilhan Omar, her counterpart from Minnesota, and realized the two were turning fiction into a science. It was methodological. They had set a trap for the Israeli government, and the leadership had fallen into it (with a slight push from US President Donald Trump).

Tlaib and Omar had asked to come to “Palestine” on a fact-finding mission that had little to do with facts and everything to do with finding the perfect backdrop to promote their anti-Israel, pro-boycott beliefs. Their reported itinerary, when it was released last week just ahead of the scheduled trip, contained no meetings or tours that would allow them to see or hear the Israeli perspective. It was a Palestinian itinerary and agenda.

Of course, they could have come with the large Democrat delegation that visited earlier this month, but then the newly elected congresswomen would not have been able to carry out their desired provocations.

They maneuvered Israel into a lose-lose situation, as The Jerusalem Post’s diplomatic reporter Herb Keinon put it.

Israel at first was inclined to take a deep breath, hold its nose, and let them in – knowing that whatever the Jewish state did, it was not going to be portrayed favorably by the two US representatives.

Then President Trump tweeted: “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds.” This made Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (rightly or wrongly) reverse his decision and bar the two.

As Keinon noted, Trump is interested in using the incident to portray Tlaib and Omar as the ugly face of the Democratic party. Although Netanyahu knows it’s in Israel’s best interest to maintain bipartisan support, the prime minister – given Trump’s relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem and recognition of Israeli sovereignty on the Golan – is not in a position to argue with the US president over something relatively minor like this.

The extent of the manipulation became even clearer when Tlaib appealed to Interior Minister Arye Deri to let her travel to the West Bank “on humanitarian grounds” to see her grandmother, who is in her nineties. Having received permission, Tlaib announced that she would not go after all, tweeting she would not “bow down to their oppressive & racist policies.” So much for her love of her grandmother. Figuratively, she sold her out.

Nonetheless, in an emotional speech, Tlaib recalled a childhood visit to her grandparents and extended family. “I watched as my mother [pause for tears] had to go through dehumanizing checkpoints, even though she was a United States citizen and a proud American,” Tlaib sobbed. “... All I can do... as the granddaughter of a woman who lives in occupied territory, is to elevate her voice by exposing the truth. The only way I know how, as my Detroit public school teachers taught me, is by humanizing the pain of oppression...”

Tlaib professed to be “deeply disturbed.” I find her deeply disturbing.

Anyone who has traveled by air can identify with the feelings of frustration. Air travel, once glamorous and exciting, is now tedious and harsh. Passengers have to arrive hours ahead of their flights; security checks frequently include removing shoes and belts and being patted down by an official with a metal detector. Like passing through checkpoints, it’s not pleasant.

What triggered the strict security measures? Not a power-hungry airport authority but the need to find new ways to ensure safety. The world changed 20 years ago, on September 11. The hijacking of four planes and deadly attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon were not carried out by people protesting demeaning security procedures. They were carried out by al-Qaeda jihadists. The security measures were put in place as a result.

The same is true for security checkpoints and the security fence. The suicide bombers and knife-wielding attackers came first. The checkpoints were a response to terrorism and not its trigger. And, no, Israelis don’t enjoy having their soldiers carry out these searches at checkpoints and in raids, but they prefer it to losing their children in attacks that could have been prevented.

THE PALESTINIAN plight is self-perpetuating. I don’t know about the curriculum in Detroit, but I do know what is taught in Palestinian schools: hatred and antisemitism. This ensures that no matter what, peace – true peace – is not attainable in the near future. A generation raised on the cult of martyrdom is doomed.

The attack last week in which an Israeli policeman was stabbed by Palestinians age 17 and 14 is just one recent example. The two were fueled on the rhetoric of “free al-Aqsa.” That’s the Temple Mount where Jews are not currently allowed to pray. Only Muslims.

Speaking of which: As others have noted, Israeli passport holders are banned – permanently – from entering more than a dozen Muslim and Arab countries. Many of those countries won’t let in anyone whose passport contains – the horror – an Israeli visa. This is not just a denial of rights, it’s a denial of existence.

Unlike Tlaib and Omar, I decided to review history rather than revise it. This month two anniversaries stand out in particular. In August 2005, Israel disbanded all the Jewish communities in Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip and four in Samaria. Somehow the more than 8,000 Jews who lost their homes, livelihoods and community support systems in the disengagement 14 years ago were never considered refugees. That is a status reserved for Palestinians, in perpetuity. Thousands of rockets have been launched on Israel from Gaza since the disengagement, including 600 in May this year and several last weekend while the Tlaib-related tweet war was being waged in the virtual world. Whatever the conflict is about, it’s clearly not “the settlements.”

Further proof of this can be found in the tragic anniversary being commemorated this weekend. On August 23 and 24, 1929 – exactly 90 years ago – Arabs, spurred on by the lies of the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, committed a pogrom against Jewish residents of Hebron. Sixty-seven Jewish residents of the ancient city were brutally murdered by their Arab neighbors, and the traumatized remaining members of the Jewish community were relocated to Jerusalem. Yet there is no international recognition of the right of Jews to live in Hebron, Gush Etzion, or in Jerusalem’s Old City, Neveh Yaacov neighborhood or Silwan – among the places where Jewish residents were displaced or slaughtered over the decades and returned after the Arab countries failed to destroy Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. Tlaib sheds no tears for them.

Throughout the saga, I wavered between thinking it would be best to let the two US representatives visit and see Israel for themselves, to thinking that advocating the boycott of a country and then requesting to visit it takes a special kind of nerve. Ultimately, as far as Tlaib and Omar were concerned, this was never meant to be a fact-finding trip but an ego trip. Tlaib’s memory lane is a very selective one.

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