As most readers of The Duran are painfully aware of, the United States has executed a policy toward Israel that has been painted as “a great relationship with our closest Middle East ally”, but which often in reality exposes the US as something of a proxy to the wishes of the Israeli leadership. The actions of notably anti-Israel Democrat House Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are actually trying to fracture this slavish relationship between the two countries.
It is no secret that the US policy toward Israel has been almost uniformly supported over the years, regardless of party. Sometimes the Palestinian people seem to get a better bit of representation for their grievances, and sometimes not. It is actually very difficult to know what is going on in the “official” purview about Israel and Palestine, but this can also be seen as an effort to maintain the status quo, to the frustration of many Palestinians who left their country to live in the US and elsewhere in the world. For them, the ties to their relatives and friends who are not doing very well in their homeland is a source of great bitterness and resentment, though, to be sure, the lives of the Palestinians in the United States is often very much the success story.
Rashida Tlaib, the US representative from Michigan’s 13th district, encompassing a large part of Detroit, and Ilhan Omar, Minnesota’s 5th district representative, encompassing Minneapolis and its suburbs, share a great deal of animus towards Israel, albeit in different ways. Both women are Muslims, however, neither appear to be really ‘orthodox’ in the sense of what passes for Islam. Rashida believes her God is a woman, and Ilhan Omar and Tlaib both support policy views that are utterly anathema to Islam, such as support for LGBT+ rights, homosexual marriage and so on.
However, these two women both share a real resentment against Israel. In Tlaib’s case, the attitude is borne of family upbringing as the child of Palestinian immigrants in Detroit, so there is some personal family connection to the situation. Omar hails from Somalia, and her approach to the matter is definitely as an outsider, though she is the more venomous in her fairly blunt attacks on Israel and US policy. For her, the issue appears much more ideological in terms of Islam’s overall views about Jewish people and the Jewish state in its present form; further, Omar really does appear to hold the set of resentments that cross the line from being merely “anti-Israel” to “anti-Semitic”, given some of the tropes she has employed in her rhetoric.
Both of these firebrands were recently refused permission to enter Israael, based on the rhetoric that they constantly spew about the Israeli state. This move appears to be deliberate, and if so, it may actually be brilliant, oddly enough both on the parts of Tlaib and Omar as well as the counter-reaction by President Trump. However, do not expect this activity to do much to actually address the problem in Palestine.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 15, 2019
President Trump actually urged Benjamin Netanyahu to prevent these two from entering Israel. A report on Fox News indicates that the activities Tlaib intended to pursue while in Palestine were radically anti-Israel in the worst way.
When the Israeli government refused entry to these two women, the Democrat Party of Congress rallied behind its two firebrands. This again appears to be a calculated move on the part of the US President, who has done a remarkably consistent job of getting the Democrats to portray themselves as a thoroughly radical, anti-American (as founded) party.
Beyond revealing just how important Trump’s continued friendship and happiness is to the Israeli leader, the entire episode also underscores just what a complication the US-Israel relationship has become for Democrats.
Poll after poll has shown that liberal Democratic primary voters are less sympathetic to Israel than they were in previous years. Likely as a result, most Democratic presidential campaigns for 2020 have bucked tradition and openly expressed their criticisms of the tiny Middle Eastern nation.
It’s why more progressive Democrats running for president, like Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), have spoken more critically of Israel writ large and Netanyahu’s policies in particular.
Other more moderate campaigners, like former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have been slightly more steadfast in support of the Israel relationship. None, though, has been quick to back Netanyahu’s leadership.
But the decision to keep out Omar and Tlaib could hurt already strained ties between congressional Democrats and Israel. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), who just came back from a trip sponsored by the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC, is asking Israeli officials to reconsider banning the two members of Congress.
Now that Netanyahu has followed through on blocking the women, his decision could potentially widen the rift among Democrats on Israel. Democratic leaders in Congress were forced to stand by the two banned representatives — if they hadn’t, the progressive wing would likely have revolted. Yet by speaking out in support of Omar and Tlaib, senior Democrats have potentially exposed themselves to accusations that they support the BDS movement.
Which means Israel may once again become one of the key foreign policy issues tearing Democrats apart — and potentially exposing a bigger rift between the party and the Jewish state.
As a political move for the view of people in the United States, this is likely to be seen as a win. It is almost a stated fact for many Americans, and many conservative and evangelical Americans, that a close and supportive relationship with Israel is in their best interests; indeed that this is desired by God himself, according to many of these religious groups.
This obviously is a major wall of opinion that Palestinians have as yet been unable to break through in the US, to expose a very real humanitarian crisis, and indeed, cruelty perpetuated upon the Palestinian people by the immense power of the Jewish state.
For this reason, many Palestinians may see a light of hope in rhetoric from Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar. And to be sure, sometimes what they say is very accurate. To give these two ladies credit, especially Ilhan Omar, never has the nature of what is going on in Israel with regard to Palestine been as baldly exposed as it has in her fiery comments.
Nevertheless – and this is likely to be very aggravating for pro-Palestinian folks – these two women are probably the worst possible choices to idolize and support with regards to this situation. Here is why:
- There are several factions operating at once in the Palestinian struggle and they occasionally use each other in an uneasy alliance that must eventually fail. In particular, Palestinian Christians are often quietly complicit with their Muslim counterparts in Palestine, who want not just liberation of the Palestinian people, they want Israel wiped out. Additionally, their vision of Palestine is of an Islamic Palestine. No Christians, folks. After the Jews are pushed into the sea, Christians are next to go. Once their usefulness to the Islamic-led drive pays off, then they will likely find their own heads on the chopping block.
- Tlaib and Omar are both pressing liberation on standards that are not Christian, and are expressly modes used by Muslims bent on conquest. A book about St Charles de Foucauld of Morocco and France, a recently sainted Roman Catholic monk from the early 20th century, notes that the people who eventually killed him knew that deception was a useful tool in Islam to defeat the infidels. Similarly, the 9-11 hijackers also engaged in very wild living as was allowed by Islam for two reasons – justification against their coming “martyrdom”, and this also served the purpose of deception, making these men appear to be just some wild and crazy guys having fun in Paterson, New Jersey. Their drive was for the advancement of jihad, and nothing more. To be sure, Rashida Tlaib is perhaps too loopy to get a real idea of what and who she is allying herself with, but Omar knows exactly what she is doing. The end result of their drive will not be the free Palestine so many of us truly desire.
- While Israel does have a beastly record against Palestinian civilians, leaders of the opposition groups in Palestine have an equally beastly record against Israeli civilians. There is no way that taking out civilian people in acts of oppression (Israel) or terror (Palestine) are justified. There are only two real ways to go – all-out war between the two countries, or honest and humble diplomacy from both sides. Tlaib and Omar intended to throw their weight behind the violent arms of the intifadeh, a move that would only fall into the Israeli purview as “justification” to go all out against the Palestinians yet again, and with full US support. This again means at best, a tightening of the oppression against the Palestinian people, all the more “justified” because they cannot be trusted by Israel and the US. Despite the UN support for Palestine, like it or not, the US plays by its own rules in the region, and provocation will only play into the narrative that the Americans firmly believe is true about this region.
In other words, there are some very unpalatable truths that for some reason, the opposition groups in Palestine refuse to acknowledge. Tyranny of the sort that the Palestinian people face has been defeated before, but all-out-war as an option to achieve this is impossible for the Palestinian people and their allies. It is a further unfortunate fact that although many nations in the Middle East express verbal support for Palestine, no one is really willing to put everything on the line to fight for them against Israel and the US.
It would in fact seem that whether Tlaib and Omar know this or not, their actions serve to keep the turmoil going, rather than to solve the problem.
It is very simple – Israel, love it or hate it – is not going away. Its alliances are far too powerful for this to happen.
But, there is a way for Palestine to break free – it may not work, but it is probably the only path that can work. It worked in two other places in history against another empire. The two nations that engaged in it utterly won their struggle against the tyrants too, all without firing a shot.
For Palestine to be free, it is going to have to do the hardest task it ever faced – to show the world it is worthy of being free. To beat the Israelis in the US court of opinion, the Palestinians must show that they are truly better and more noble people than the Israelis.
This of course probably has many who read this with their teeth on edge in anger, but consider the facts that have just been laid out. The narratives and established opinions by great powers is set in place and it is too strong to beat in the way that has been attempted for over fifty years. Israel cries victim at the drop of a hat, and the most powerful nation in the world is in their pocket, so they will win every time they are attacked. That is not going to change as long as the image of the Palestinian people is that of a bunch of zealots and terrorists. Even with the liberal press often more supportive of Palestinian oppression, there is no effect on the image problem of suicide bombings and rocket attacks that appear largely unprovoked and pure manifestations of Palestinian rage. There has to be a different path.
The only way out of this is the road the Indians and the South Africans took against the tyranny of the British Empire. That way was nonviolent, and it was absolutely victorious, with the only problems happening after some of the parties involved reverted to type after securing their independence.
This means that Christians and Jewish people must be treated as equals in all Palestinian regions, just as much as it demands that Israel treat Muslims and Christians as equals – something they do not always do.
After Israeli elections take place on September 17th, a peace plan that has been gradually assembled by the efforts of Jared Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, is expected to be fully unveiled. So far, the Palestinian response to various aspects of that plan have not done their cause any credit – the news is that they flatly refused to even look at it. This is not negotiating from a position of strength for the Palestinians because of their surrounding reputation for violence. This makes them look untrustworthy.
For anyone who is reading this article to this point and who supports the liberation and normalization of Palestinian rights and the establishment of a truly sovereign state or agreement to be equal citizens with Israel (one state or two-state, take your pick), this analysis is probably not what you wanted to see. However, fifty-plus years points to the fact that nothing has changed as it was done before, and history shows that nonviolent opposition to a tyrannical power defeats the tyrannical power. The man who developed this strategy, Moandas K. Gandhi said that it is a provocative fight, and one that will hurt.
But he also wisely noted, “but we cannot lose.”
Maybe it is time to think about the truth of this leader’s words.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.