the Tlaib and Omar Propaganda Tour
As the dust settles
over the planned, canceled, re-scheduled and then canceled-again trip to Israel
by Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, two things come to mind offering
perspectives on how this played out.
First, the scene
from “Argo” when the CIA affirms that “ Why? Because no matter what
had happened, Israel only had bad choices.
The second was my
day as driver for Benjamin Netanyahu when, as Israel’s ambassador to the UN,
he visited Atlanta to meet with CNN writers and producers to try to offer
perspective on the Arab-Israel conflict which media routinely either misses or
ignores because of ignorance or bias.
Why the best bad
option? Certainly, Israel could have handled its decision much better. But
either way, they played into the hands of the media hungry rabid anti-Semites
who disgrace the US Congress with their hateful views. Not allowing them to
visit, then allowing Tlaib to do so on humanitarian grounds to visit her elderly
grandmother was a no-win situation.
Tlaib and Omar
weren’t going to give Israel any slack. Their delegation-of-two to
“Palestine” made that abundantly clear. That’s why they were traveling
separately from the largest ever delegation of Democratic Congressmen to Israel.
The closest they got to any official meeting with Israeli representatives would
have been dinner in a kosher Moroccan restaurant.
Tlaib and Omar
were, and remain, out to delegitimize and malign Israel at every turn. Banning
them may have indeed been the least bad idea. Their independent itinerary was
organized by a group that supports terror and the destruction of Israel.
Their trip would have been an unabashed Anti-Israel Propaganda Tour that would
make Yasser Arafat blush in his grave.
Any Number of
Given the hate and
malice, allowing Tlaib and Omar to come to Israel could have ended in any number
of scenarios that would have created no less bad PR for Israel, perhaps much
worse. It could have put both Israelis and Palestinian Arabs in harm’s way.
Imagine one of a variety of deliberately choreographed situations as my good
friend, Abe, a Jordanian born American academic depicts:
– “Tlaib and
Omar join thousands of Arabs at an Israeli checkpoint. The mob starts pressing
and menacing IDF soldiers. The latter either retreat in defeat or push back and
hurt the rioters, possibly including the terror supporting Congresswomen. People
are jostled, fall, and are hurt – possibly including Tlaib and Omar. Pulitzer
prize-winning photos depicting only the anti-Israel narrative go viral
immediately making front page news all over the world.”
– “Tlaib and
Omar arrive at the Temple Mount. They are followed by a mob of Islamists who
provoke IDF soldiers. A riot ensues in which either Tlaib or Omar get injured:
even just a bruised knee, or a slight concussion. Or the Congresswomen are not
injured themselves, but they rush to help those who have fallen (an easy thing
to do). It’s all dramatic and it’s all on film. Israel trys to explain who
started the trouble, and the world will laugh as usual and call it an Apartheid
– “Best case
scenario. No riots, scuffles, injuries, or deaths. There are only pictures of
Tlaib hugging her grandmother, embracing distant cousins, tears filling their
eyes. There are photos of Omar praying at the Temple Mount with a throng of
adoring Muslim women, raising her hands to Allah in supplication against the
Zionist occupier, shedding tears of Muslim solidarity which will be seen by
every one of the 1.2 billion Muslims from Jakarta to Detroit. Violence is a
preferred, but not a necessary, condition for Pallywood productions.”
This leads to the
1980s CNN briefing with Netanyahu.
While his briefing
may have had a short-lived impact, with a news cycle that changes hourly, most
media outlets are not reliable to offer context or nuance. They need to
get their reports, photos, and videos out before their competition. Even without
bias or ignorance of facts, a lot is left out as they take the lowest common
denominator to churn out the most dramatic “news.”
Nuance Missing in
Some of the nuance
missing in most reports this week include the following:
– Assuming that
Prime Minister Netanyahu caved to President Trump. If it weren’t so
transparent it would be funny. For so many who hate everything about Donald
Trump, the assumption is that he made Israel’s decision. People project their
disgust with Trump on Israel and Netanyahu without any awareness that there are
other diplomatic and security concerns. There’s no awareness that almost
nothing is being done in Israel now without an eye on next month’s election.
While US pundits blame Trump, Israeli politicians blame Netanyahu for putting
his own election campaign above national interests. These are mutually
exclusive. Only one can be right, if any.
– Some criticize
Israel for preventing Tlaib and Omar from getting “a firsthand look at
what’s going on.” But that’s dishonest given that by the very nature of
their itinerary, they had no intent to get a firsthand look, but rather vilify
Israel in every way possible.
– Rather than
visiting Israel with dozens of other Democratic Congressmen, Tlaib and Omar were
scheduled to go under the auspices of Miftah, an anti-Semitic Palestinian Arab
organization. Miftah is so hateful that in 2013 this they condemned President
Obama for hosting a Passover Seder in the White House. The condemnation was not
for supporting an Israeli government or military action, but for hosting a
Jewish holiday dinner. They used one of the most hateful blood libels to depict
this: “Does Obama in fact know the relationship between ‘Passover’ and
‘Christian blood’..?! Or ‘Passover’ and ‘Jewish blood rituals?!’
Much of the chatter and gossip about historical Jewish blood rituals in Europe
are real and not fake as they claim; the Jews used the blood of Christians in
the Jewish Passover.”
– Some say
barring them was a missed opportunity to depict the strength of Israel’s
democracy. To whom? Tlaib and Omar? To the rest of the world? So, someone could
interject meekly, “ah but Israel is a strong democracy evidenced by the fact
that they were allowed to come to Israel to begin with.” Does being a
democracy require one to be suicidal?
– The final act
(as of now) of this performance was that immediately after being denied to visit
Israel as part of their Anti-Israel Propaganda Tour, Tlaib appealed to
Israel’s Interior Minister to be able to visit her elderly grandmother who she
might not see again. Israel approved this visit on humanitarian grounds. But
Tlaib, never missing an opportunity to be indecent, decided kissing her elderly
grandmother wasn’t as important as slapping Israel in the face. She rejected
Israel’s offer because of “oppressive conditions.” Given how she played
this by using her own grandmother as a prop, there’s little doubt what lengths
she’d have gone to bash Israel while visiting.
Islam of Iran in
the Halls of Congress
a fascinating story that took place during the early years of Iran’s Islamic
revolution when they held hostage 52 Americans. The intolerant Islam of
Iran is now in the halls of Congress. It is relevant here in another way,
other than the “bad idea” element. The very intolerance and historical
revisionism of radical Islam which Tlaib and Omar represent, and which still
thrives in Iran, prevents not only a peaceful solution, but even an ability to
Why does it matter
if they are “duly elected members of Congress” as is being parroted by so
many? Does their office make them above the law, or basic decency? Why is
Israel any less of an ally or a democracy when they prevent those who support
terror and embrace Israel’s delegitimization and destruction from getting free
decision could have been different, or done differently. But let’s be
completely clear that lots of nuance is needed to understand the depth of the
issue, and that this may have indeed been Israel’s least bad option.