I wanted my Friday post to focus on the fact that today is Tu B’Av – the Jewish day of love – which you can learn more about here. We certainly need more love in our world. But, as I prepare to write today’s message, I find myself once again compelled to address a national and, in this case, international, crisis: Israel’s decision to bar Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib from visiting the Jewish state.
I stand with AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and agree with the statement they issued yesterday:
I also agree with the rather blunt words tweeted by David Harris, the CEO of the American Jewish Committee:
The AJC and AIPAC are not alone in their disagreement with Israel’s decision. The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations stated that:
Tlaib and Omar had “made clear that their self-proclaimed ‘trip to Palestine’ was intended to promote their anti-Israel agenda and clearly demonstrated a lack of interest in dialogue or true fact finding” Nonetheless, the Conference “expressed our reservations about the ramifications of the decision.” It also stated that, in the call, “many” of the Conference’s 53-member organizations “expressed disagreement with the government’s decision and expressed concern that it will be exploited by pro-BDS and other critics of Israel, while several others expressed support.” READ MORE HERE.
I agree with David Horovitz, the founding editor of Times of Israel and previously the editor of Jerusalem Post who writes:
“…presumably under pressure from a US president who naturally has his own agenda, his own partisan political agenda — sometimes deeply beneficial to Israel, but other times not — Israel on Thursday changed tack and announced that these two troublesome critics would not be allowed to see for themselves after all. That even though they would have turned their backs on everything we’d have wanted to show them and those accompanying them, we were going to deny ourselves the opportunity to so much as try. That we were awarding them the propaganda victory, the opportunity to denounce us and to ridicule our democratic claims, without so much as mustering a defense…
There’s every reason, indeed, to believe that Tlaib and Omar were coming here full of bad intention, bent on doing us harm. Of course they would have sought to abuse our democratic freedoms in order to try to weaken and undermine us. But they are now filled with still greater determination to make their case against us, in a climate increasingly sympathetic to them, and we have denied ourselves the opportunity to make ours.” READ MORE HERE.
I also agree with Eric Levitz, a journalist with New York Magazine:
“Two pro-BDS congresswomen conducting a series of press events in the Palestinian territories might generate some displeasing headlines for Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. But it would hardly qualify as a major news headline. By contrast, one of America’s closest allies blocking two U.S. officials from stepping foot on its soil — one of whom has a grandmother in the West Bank — is the stuff that cable-news top stories are made of. And Israel has no interest in putting a spotlight on its illiberal laws, or Omar and Tlaib’s advocacy for BDS. Both congresswomen currently enjoy more widespread popularity and goodwill among American progressives than the movement to boycott Israel does. Thus, anything that increases awareness of their views on Israel — let alone makes them appear more sympathetic — is a huge gift to BDS’s recruitment efforts.” READ MORE HERE.
This morning, it was announced that Israel will allow Congresswoman Tlaib into the country after she requested entry so that she can visit her elderly grandmother. In her request, she wrote: “I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit.” After receiving permission, Tlaib decided not to visit Israel, tweeting:
“When I won, it gave the Palestinian people hope that someone will finally speak the truth about the inhumane conditions. I can’t allow the State of Israel to take away that light by humiliating me & use my love for my sity (grandmother) to bow down to their oppressive & racist policies.”
And so begin the headlines and images that will focus on Tlaib, a devoted, compassionate granddaughter of a Palestinian, a Congresswoman who has been victimized by the Jewish state. These headlines and images will overshadow the other side of the story. Sadly, Israel walked right into this trap.