Rep. Rashida Tlaib on Friday called off her visit to the West Bank, hours after Israel ’s decision to allow her into the country on humanitarian grounds with some restrictions on what she could say and do.
Her announcement capped off two days of back-and-forth, with Israel on Thursday saying it would bar Ms. Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar from the country because of their support for boycotting Israel. Israel had said last month it would allow the Congresswomen to visit but reversed course after pressure from President Trump, who said “it would show great weakness” to let them in.
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. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!
Ms. Tlaib had filed a humanitarian appeal to Israel, promising not to promote boycott activities and abide by restrictions while visiting her family in the West Bank. She said it might be her last chance to see her elderly grandmother. But she said Friday she didn’t want to visit under the conditions imposed by Israel, who she accused of “silencing me and treating me like a criminal.
“I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in—fighting against racism, oppression & injustice,” she said in a tweet.
Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me. I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in–fighting against racism, oppression & injustice. https://twitter.com/RashidaTlaib/status/1162341203406401536 …Rashida Tlaib
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 to bow down to their oppressive & racist policies. https://twitter.com/RashidaTlaib/status/1162333169846247425 …18.9K people are talking about this
Israel’s announcement Friday had partially walked back Israel’s decision Thursday to block Ms. Tlaib, a Palestinian-American representing Detroit, and Ms. Omar, a Somali-American representing Minneapolis, from entering Israel for a visit to Jerusalem and the West Bank that was to begin Sunday.
Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, who said he authorized Ms. Tlaib’s entry into Israel on humanitarian grounds, wrote on Twitter that the congresswoman’s “hatred of Israel outweighs her love for her grandmother.”
The episode was the latest round in Mr. Trump’s feud with Ms. Tlaib and Omar, who, along with New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley, make up a group of women of color in Congress calling themselves ‘The Squad.’ Mr. Trump has repeatedly targeted them at rallies and on Twitter as being anti-Israel, which they deny.
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Sen. Marco Rubio (R. Fla.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Israel’s decision to bar the Congresswomen is a mistake. “Being blocked is what they really hoped for all along in order to bolster their attacks against the Jewish state,” he said.
House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the decision was a sign of weakness, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee said it believed every member of Congress should be able to travel to Israel.
Democratic leaders have expressed concern over Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Omar’s views on Israel, which are problematic for a party that has identified as pro-Israel.
Ms. Omar has said lawmakers’ support for Israel is motivated by money, which critics slammed as anti-Semitic. She later apologized for the comments after Mrs. Pelosi rebuked her.
Ms. Tlaib has slammed Israel’s policies toward Palestinians and has said she supports a one state solution, in which Israelis and Palestinians living in Israel would have equal rights and representation. Israel fears that would be the end of its Jewish majority in the country.
Along with Ms. Omar, Ms. Tlaib was to visit Jerusalem, Hebron, Bethlehem and Ramallah.
Ms. Tlaib came under fire from some supporters Friday after she had accepted Israel’s offer to visit her grandmother. Some Palestinians criticized Ms. Tlaib as having caved to Israeli pressure and accepting unfair demands.
Bassam Tlaib, 54, the Congresswoman’s uncle who lives in Beit Ur al-Faqua, said the whirlwind of media reports whether Ms. Tlaib would be allowed to enter Israel brought the family “from a state of happiness to anxiety.” He said he was afraid to give Ms. Tlaib’s grandmother hope that she’ll be visited by her grandchild.
“She’s is waiting to be embraced by her loved one,” Mr. Tlaib said of his mother and the congresswoman’s grandmother.
A photo-printing company has pulled its advertisements from Laura Ingraham’s show after the Fox News program aired a graphic featuring white supremacist and anti-Semite Paul Nehlen.
The controversy stems from a Thursday night episode of “The Ingraham Angle,” in which the host lamented recent comments made by Hillary Clinton and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), criticizing Facebook’s refusal to take down an altered video of Pelosi.
Speaking with conservative activist Candace Owens, Ingraham likened the altered video to a work of satire. Clinton’s and Pelosi’s complaints, she said, were simply a coordinated effort from the left to “silence conservative voices” ahead of next year’s election, a common accusation by conservatives, including President Trump.
“Facebook now, what do they monitor, hate?” Ingraham asked. “That sounds good until you realize hate — and these are some of the people that they’ve shunned.”
Fox then displayed a graphic featuring Owens and seven other “prominent voices censored on social media.” Among those silenced, Ingraham said, were “people who believe in border enforcement, people who believe in national sovereignty.”
But for many, the inclusion of Nehlen — who was banned from Twitter in February 2018 for aracist tweet about Meghan Markle, actress and wife of Britain’s Prince Harry, and is known for espousing anti-Semitic rhetoric — was indefensible. Once a fringe candidate in the Republican congressional primaries in Wisconsin, Nehlen has described himself as “pro-White” and has a documented affiliation with the alt-right movement. He once tweeted a list of his critics on Twitter, writing that of those 81 people, “74 are Jews while only 7 are non-Jews.”
Netanyahu’s speech was another knife into the heart of the bipartisan U.S.-Israel alliance. He attacked Democrats, singling out one Muslim member of Congress for remarks that were seen as anti-Semitic, while ignoring the many anti-Semitic remarks by Republicans. And he leveled the scurrilous claim that anyone who opposes AIPAC is anti-Semitic.
.. On Monday, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) literally read from Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” on the House floor and borrowed Hitler’s “big lie” allegation against Jews to use on Democrats. “Unconscionable,” said the Anti-Defamation League. But Republicans, and Netanyahu, said nothing.
.. Tuesday was the 40th anniversary of the signing of the historic Camp David Accords. But the Israeli leader didn’t mention this, either, instead delivering division to a group that has embraced his (and Trump’s) nationalist policies.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, the largest branch of American Judaism, noticed that the AIPAC crowd had “beyond a doubt” become mostly pro-Trump conservatives, not the cross section of Israel supporters that AIPAC once drew. The rhetoric fit the room. “To suggest anti-Semitism is part of the Democratic Party and liberal part of the spectrum and not also part of Republican leaders’ discourse . . . is corrosive,” he said. “The thing that has kept Israel safe over the decades is rock-solid bipartisan support.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) issued (then deleted) a tweet targeting three wealthy Jews: “We cannot allow [George] Soros, [Tom] Steyer and [Michael R.] Bloomberg to BUY this election! . . . #MAGA.” But at AIPAC, McCarthy denounced anti-Semitic language on the “floors of Congress” — an apparent reference to Omar — and said he’d be “lying” to say Democrats are as opposed to anti-Semitism as Republicans.
President Trump, of course, said there “were very fine people” among the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, told Jews they wouldn’t support him “because I don’t want your money,” tweeted an image of a Star of David atop a pile of cash, used anti-Semitic tropes in an ad with photos of prominent Jews, and often denounces “globalists” such as Soros — among many other offenses. But he calls the Democrats “anti-Jewish.”
.. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tut-tutted: “I am troubled that leading Democrats seem reluctant to plainly call out problems within their own ranks. And I am troubled that many of the declared Democrat presidential candidates seem to be avoiding this gathering.” But he didn’t “call out” Republicans such as Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio) for spelling Steyer’s name as “$teyer,” or Rep. Steve King (Iowa) for championing white supremacy.
Anti-Semitism is real on both the right and left. Selectively denouncing it based on party is dangerous to Jews, to Israel and to civilized society. Mindless tribalism seems already to have broken AIPAC, based on the changing audience over the two decades I’ve attended. Tuesday’s conservative crowd was cool to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) vow that “we will never allow anyone to make Israel a wedge issue.”
More enthusiastic was the reception for Netanyahu, who, after singling out a Democrat’s anti-Semitism, championed a new Israeli law demoting Arabic as a national language and assigning only Jews “the right to exercise national self-determination.”
Claimed Netanyahu: “We don’t judge people by the color of their skin [or] their religion. . . . No one is a second-class citizen.”
As the AIPAC hard-liners condone such chutzpah, cheering the dishonest and partisan jabs of Netanyahu and the Republicans, do they not see that this destroys the American political consensus that has preserved the Jewish state for 70 years?
Is the world ready for the Great Schism?
The events of the past year brought American and Israeli Jews ever closer to a breaking point. President Trump, beloved in Israel and decidedly unloved by a majority of American Jews, moved the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, with the fiery evangelical pastors John Hagee and Robert Jeffress consecrating the ceremony.
In October, after the murder of 11 Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, President Trump went to that city to pay his respects. Members of the Jewish community there, in near silent mourning, came out to protest Mr. Trump’s arrival, declaring that he was not welcome until he gave a national address to renounce the rise of white nationalism and its attendant bigotry.
The only public official to greet the president at the Tree of Life was Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer.
At a Hanukkah celebration at the White House last month, the president raised eyebrows and age-old insinuations of dual loyalties when he told American Jews at the gathering that his vice president had great affection for “your country,” Israel.
Yossi Klein Halevi, the American-born Israeli author, has framed this moment starkly: Israeli Jews believe deeply that President Trump recognizes their existential threats. In scuttling the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal, which many Israelis saw as imperiling their security, in moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in basically doing whatever the government of Benjamin Netanyahu asks, they see a president of the United States acting to save their lives.
American Jews, in contrast, see President Trump as their existential threat, a leader who they believe has stoked nationalist bigotry, stirred anti-Semitism and, time and time again, failed to renounce the violent hatred swirling around his political movement. The F.B.I. reports that hate crimes in the United States jumped 17 percent in 2017, with a 37 percent spike in crimes against Jews and Jewish institutions.
When neither side sees the other as caring for its basic well-being, “that is a gulf that cannot be bridged,” Michael Siegel, the head rabbi at Chicago’s conservative Anshe Emet Synagogue, told me recently. He is an ardent Zionist.
To be sure, a vocal minority of Jews in Israel remain queasy about the American president, just as a vocal minority of Jews in the United States strongly support him. But more than 75 percent of American Jews voted for the Democrats in the midterm elections; 69 percent of Israelis have a positive view of the United States under Mr. Trump, up from 49 percent in 2015, according to the Pew Research Center. Israel is one of the few developed countries where opinion about the United States has improved since Mr. Trump took office.
Part of the distance between Jews in the United States and Israeli Jews may come from the stance that Israel’s leader is taking on the world stage. Mr. Netanyahu has
- embraced the increasingly authoritarian Hungarian leader Victor Orban, who ran a blatantly anti-Semitic re-election campaign. He has
- aligned himself with ultranationalists like Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines,
- Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and a
- Polish government that passed a law making it a crime to suggest the Poles had any responsibility for the Holocaust. The Israeli prime minister was one of the very few world leaders who reportedly
- ran interference for the Trump administration after the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and urged President Trump to maintain his alliance with the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. Mr. Netanyahu’s
- son Yair was temporarily kicked off Facebook for writing that he would “prefer” that “all the Muslims leave the land of Israel.” Last month,
- with multiple corruption investigations closing in on him and his conservative coalition fracturing, Mr. Netanyahu called for a snap election in April, hoping to fortify his political standing. If past is prologue, his election campaign will again challenge American Jewry’s values. As his 2015 campaign came to a close, Mr. Netanyahu
- darkly warned his supporters that “the right-wing government is in danger — Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves,” adding with a Trumpian flourish that left-wing organizations “are bringing them in buses.”