The last word on the Ilhan/Tliab controversy

The outrage and disingenuous claims that this is not how allies treat each other is really just another double standard against Israel.

Mark Silverberg, | updated: 12:30

OpEds Mark Silverberg
Mark Silverberg
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Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan both freshmen Democratic Congresswomen have built their reputations on delegitimizing the Jewish state and working towards its destruction. They were not good-faith actors earnestly seeking to visit the Holy Land to learn about its people, history and culture.

If their intention was to see the facts on the ground for what they are, they could have easily joined 72 of their fellow new Democratic and Republican House members who visited Israel recently as part of a Congressional delegation. Instead, they sought a visit to “Palestine” (a country that doesn’t exist and a word often used to deny Israel’s right to exist) that would have given them an international platform to spew their hatred so they preferred to go separately to avoid the discomfort of meeting with Israeli leaders and experiencing an Israel that did not mesh with their preconceived notions.

As Brooke Goldstein of the Lawfare Project writing on Fox News said “Israel was wise to deny entry. … These freshmen Democratic congresswomen have built their brands on delegitimizing the Jewish state … [they] would have used a visit to Israel to give themselves an international platform to spew their hate.”

Tlaib wrote for Louis Farrakhan’s publication, The Final Call, which regularly publishes anti-Semitic materials. And, according to the Anti-Defamation League, she invited a Palestinian activist to her swearing-in who has praised Hamas and Hezbollah and has equated Zionists with Nazis. Like Omar, Tlaib has accused her colleagues of dual loyalty - a classic anti-Semitic trope - declaring “they forgot what country they represent.” She also advocates a one-state solution, which means she opposes the very existence of the State of Israel. 

Omar has said that when she hears people call Israel a democracy, “I almost chuckle.” She has said “Israel has hypnotized the world"; has declared her hope that Allah will “awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel"; supports a boycott of Israel, a country she has compared to Nazi Germany; accused her House colleagues who support Israel of pushing “for allegiance to a foreign country"; and declared that support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins.” (She later more or less apologized for the last comment, but not all the others, before or since that one.)

Unlike their other Democratic colleagues, Omar and Tlaib were uninterested in learning about Israel. They preferred to speak from ignorance. The two were clearly out for publicity and hoped to find opportunities to embarrass the Israeli people and their government while highlighting their own anti-Israel agenda. That is why both Omar and Tlaib are enthusiastic supporters of an anti-Semitic global campaign to boycott Jewish businesses, institutions and individuals in Israel through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that promotes economic warfare as a means of bringing about the eventual destruction of Israel.

Unfortunately, the media controversy over the Israeli government’s denial of entry into Israel of these two Congresswomen neglects to mention the sponsors of their visit and their intentions behind it. Their trip was to have been sponsored by Miftah, a rabidly anti-Semitic organization. Miftah promotes destroying Israel through economic strangulation such as boycotts. It has referred to a suicide bombing as "Palestinian women dedicated to sacrificing their lives for the cause," has published neo-Nazi materials and neo-Nazi propaganda questioning "the Jewish ‘Holocaust’ tale” in quotes, has celebrated terrorists who murder Israeli children, and has promoted the medieval blood libel that Jews kill Christian children to use their blood to bake matzah according to Becket Adams in the Washington Examiner. 

 

The itinerary Miftah had planned for Omar and Tlaib included "no meetings with Israeli officials of any political persuasion, including Arab lawmakers." In short, Miftah is an anti-Semitic, genocidal movement that wants to see the total destruction of Israel and Omar and Tlaib were more than willing to assist. Omar and Tlaib don’t just oppose Netanyahu’s policies; they oppose the state of Israel.

So, was Israel wrong in denying Omar and Tlaib entry to their country? According to Professor Eugene Kontorovich of the George Mason University School of Law ….. “As someone one who has argued that Israel should admit Omar and Tlaib, I must also say that the decision to bar them is legitimate. Countries routinely deny visas to those with extremist views. The U.S. excludes people for ideologies fundamentally hostile to the U.S. ” and, in that regard, Israeli law also provides that, “Israel has a right to prohibit activists, especially those who want to see it wiped off the map, from coming in" according to M. Zuhdi Jasser, Founder and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.

History proves that Israel is often held to a double standard, and this case is no different. Virtually every nation bars entry to those who wish it harm, yet it’s an international incident when Israel does it.  Applicants for visas to the United States, for example, are asked questions about their political views and activities. The US Patriot Act allows the Secretary of State to bar admission to the United States to “any alien whose entry or proposed activities in the United States the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds to believe would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States.” The list of people barred or excluded from the United States has included Irish politician Gerry Adams, British singer Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) and Austrian diplomat Kurt Waldheim…………and none of them supported movements advocating the destruction of the United States. 

The U.S. has also barred democratically elected Israeli legislators under the Obama Administration and in 2005, Narendra Modi (now India's Prime Minister) was to visit New York and address a rally for Indian-Americans in Madison Square Garden but the visit never happened. The State Department argued that, having failed to stop deadly riots years earlier in which Hindus killed Muslims in Gujarat (where he was the top official at the time) Modi shouldn't be allowed into the US.

In short, the current outrage and disingenuous claims that this is not how allies treat each other is really just another double standard against Israel. What principle of democracy states that you have to issue visas to foreigners who are actively engaged in efforts to harm your citizens or annihilate your country? This is all the more offensive given that Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East where Arabs are free, can vote and can live in peace. Israel does not have to prove its commitment to freedom of speech by allowing foreigners into its country who want to exploit that liberty to propagandize against the state and advocate measures to undermine its democracy and seek its destruction.

While the Congresswomen used the controversy surrounding their visit as an excuse to launch scathing attacks on Israel, Palestinians seem to be more worried about their failed leaders in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This concern is not something that the two Congresswomen seem to share with Palestinians because for them the only wrongs are caused by Israel. In fact, Palestinians are more worried about the continued power struggle between their Fatah and Hamas leaders. The Fatah-Hamas dispute, which has resulted in the creation of two separate Palestinian entities in the 'West Bank' and Gaza Strip is seen by many Palestinians as proof oftheir leaders' incompetence and failure to improve living conditions in the two areas.

As Congresswomen, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib should be working to build and not destroy bridges between their people and the US. Their fierce attacks on Israel and the US administration, unfortunately, have merely served to embolden Palestinian hardliners and fuel hate against Israelis and Americans. They should have been worried that the US Embassy was forced to cancel an event to help Palestinians because of threats and calls for a boycott. It would have been helpful had the Congresswomen made an effort to persuade Palestinian Authority officials to resume their relations with the US administration and explore ways of boosting the Palestinian economy and improving living conditions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

If they really cared about the Palestinian Arabs, they would be campaigning against the PA and Hamas leaders engaged in a power struggle over money and power and they should be calling for reforms and democracy under the PA and Hamas. The least they could do is demand an end to human rights violations by the PA and Hamas or demand that they hold long overdue presidential and parliamentary elections. They could also demand an end to the crackdown on freedom of speech under the PA and Hamas … but they have entirely different agendas.

For all these reasons, Israel was wise to deny entry to Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. These are not good-faith actors earnestly seeking to visit the Holy Land to learn about its people, history and culture. The two Congresswomen have First Amendment rights - as do all American citizens - to express their beliefs. But Israel, as a sovereign nation like the United States, also has every right to decide who can and cannot enter its borders and for what purpose. No country on earth would allow its sworn enemies to use its territory as a base from which to continue an insidious campaign of de-legitimization. 

Israel is the only country in the Middle East where Arabs are free, can vote and can live in peace with equal rights. They also hold important position in Israeli industries, are members of Israel’s parliament, and Salim Joubran is an Israeli Arab and former judge on the Supreme Court of Israel who served as a Supreme Court justice from 2003 and became a permanent member in May 2004………but these facts do not form part of the hidden agenda of Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib to undermine and ultimately destroy Israel…….. and the Democrats’ deafening silence when it comes to these two is outrageous.




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