Everything about the story of Representatives Omar and Tlaib’s aborted visit to Israel is terrible. No one in the whole affair has acted well. And the political motive for the whole fiasco—Donald Trump’s attempt to drive American Jews into the arms of the Republican Party—is so venal, so transparent, and, I hope, so doomed to failure that it makes me despair.
Let’s start with Representatives Omar and Tlaib. Their views on Israel are terrible. They wanted to travel to Israel on a trip sponsored by Miftah, a Palestinian group that support the BDS movement. “But BDS is opposed to the State of Israel, not the Jews!” No doubt that is true for some, but not for Mifta, which published an article several years ago—in Arabic, of course, not for their English-speaking supporters—attacking President Obama for hosting a Passover Seder in the White House by noting that Jews use the blood of Gentiles in their religious rituals. Miftah doubled down on the claim until the criticism became too great. Miftah also published an article by the National Vanguard, an American neo-Nazi group. I’ve put a sample in the footnotes so you don’t have to read it if you don’t want to.[efn_note]Here is that excerpt:
The control of the opinion-molding media is nearly monolithic. All of the controlled media—television, radio, newspapers, magazines, books, motion pictures—speak with a single voice, each reinforcing the other. Despite the appearance of variety, there is no real dissent, no alternative source of facts or ideas accessible to the great mass of people that might allow them to form opinions at odds with those of the media masters. They are presented with a single view of the world—a world in which every voice proclaims the equality of the races, the inerrant nature of the Jewish “Holocaust” tale, the wickedness of attempting to halt the flood of non-White aliens pouring across our borders, the danger of permitting citizens to keep and bear arms, the moral equivalence of all sexual orientations, and the desirability of a “pluralistic,” cosmopolitan society rather than a homogeneous one. It is a view of the world designed by the media masters to suit their own ends—and the pressure to conform to that view is overwhelming. People adapt their opinions to it, vote in accord with it, and shape their lives to fit it.
And who are these all-powerful masters of the media? As we shall see, to a very large extent they are Jews. It isn’t simply a matter of the media being controlled by profit-hungry capitalists, some of whom happen to be Jews. If that were the case, the ethnicity of the media masters would reflect, at least approximately, the ratio of rich Gentiles to rich Jews. The preponderance of Jews in the media is so overwhelming, however, that we are obliged to assume that it is due to more than mere happenstance.
[/efn_note] It is not okay for anyone, let alone high officials in the US government, to associate with groups like Miftah.
Let me call out Representative Tlaib for particular shame in this affair. She said she wished to travel to Israel not just for political reasons, but to see her ailing grandmother, maybe for the last time. The Israeli government relented and said Rep. Tlaib could enter Israel for humanitarian reasons, as long as she agreed not to engage in political activity while there. Representative Tlaib agreed but later backed out under pressure from Palestinians and their supporters. She has made a mockery of her own humanitarian request.
Now let’s consider what the Israeli government got wrong. In the abstract, should members of Congress, or anyone really, be able to travel to troubled areas around the world to see for themselves? Sure. If a member of Congress wants to travel to Xinjiang to look into the oppression of the Uighur people, should the Chinese government allow it? Yes, but no one actually expects the Chinese government to do it. The same goes for Syria, for Kashmir, for Myanmar, for North Korea, and for any trouble spot you can name, and it goes for Israel. After President Trump called on the Israeli government to deny entry to Representatives Tlaib and Omar, Prime Minister Netanyahu had the opportunity to rise above President Trump’s pettiness. He could have said that Israel values Israel’s relationship with the United States too much to turn away any member of Congress. He could have rolled out the red carpet for the two and offered them meetings with members of his government and with groups from all across Israeli society. But the Prime Minister could not pass up the opportunity to miss an opportunity, and he turned what could have been a triumph for Israel on the world stage into a fiasco.
But I reserve most of my criticism for President Trump. It’s shocking and upsetting that an American President would not stand up for members of Congress wishing to travel overseas. Again and again, the President shows his unfitness for office, his lack of patriotism, and his misunderstanding of the role of President on the world stage. I’ve already explained why I think Prime Minister Netanyahu has not displayed political courage here, but I sympathize with the pressures the Israeli government faced, since the President is, after all, the voice of the United States on the world stage. And what was Trump’s political calculation here? Presumably, the President wanted to drive a wedge between traditionally Democratic-leaning Jewish voters and the Democratic Party. But even AIPAC took him to task. What an awful spectacle.