Commentary

Rabbi Spero: Israel Right to Bar Omar and Tlaib, Choose Self-Defense Over Fear of Criticism

By Rabbi Aryeh Spero | August 21, 2019 | 11:43am EDT
(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

Conference of Jewish Affairs agrees with the Israeli decision not to allow Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, vocal proponents of BDS, to enter Israel pretending they have no dangerous political mission, when in fact they do.  The Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel has evolved into a call for the dismantling of the Jewish state and actively engages in the bullying and ostracism of Jewish students on American campuses.

It seems that both congresswomen curiously did not go with their fellow colleagues to visit Israel since they apparently did not want to abide by the courtesies and limitations and offer the respect required of a congressional delegation.  Reportedly, the two congresswomen were planning to visit the Al Aqsa mosque at the Temple Mount, which has too often been a volatile staging area used to inflame Muslim crowds and spark riots leading to injuries and even deaths. Israel could not risk that possibility, nor should it risk being blamed for fatal clashes.

Tlaib’s request to visit “Palestine” was already an indication she does not acknowledge the statehood of Israel, the very government to which travel requests were made. Israel has no obligation to grant courtesies to these outsiders who wish to undermine the very existence of the state of Israel.

Countries throughout the world do not allow into their territory outsiders they feel pose a grave danger to their country.  The Washington Post said that the trip was organized by an organization called MIFTAH.  In the past, MIFTAH allegedly accused Jewish people of using non-Jewish blood in the baking of Passover matzohs.   There is nothing more anti-Semitic than this blood libel, which over the centuries has caused the murder of tens of thousands of Jews. In addition, both Omar and Tlaib have publicly engaged in an unconscionable identification of Israel with Nazism, which most officials understand to be a de-legitimization of the state of Israel and a subtle way of calling for its removal as a sovereign state.

Israel’s well known humanitarian impulse permitted Tlaib to enter so as to visit a family member as long as she did not engage in any forms of anti-Israel political provocation.  Nonetheless, Tlaib refused the invitation.  As Israel’s Interior Minister and Minister of Development of the Periphercy, the Negev and the Galilee Aryeh Deri, who offered the invitation, observed: evidently “[Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s] hatred for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother.”  Many have commented that her refusal to not visit her grandmother reveals that the primary goal of her visit was always to besmirch Israel in the eyes of the world and to provoke the Muslim population.  

Suggestions that Tlaib and Omar were barred because they are Muslim is absolutely phony inasmuch as Tlaib was indeed invited, and that Israel provides full citizenship and benefits to over a million Muslim inhabitants within the state itself.   

The Prime Minister of Israel felt that their trip jeopardized the safety of Israeli citizens and would be used to propagandize for an eventual overturn of the Jewish state.  As with all western countries, including the United States, England, Germany, France, and Scandinavian countries, entry by outsiders is forbidden if deemed detrimental to that country and if the persons are themselves exceedingly offensive to civilized norms.  Both women have compared Israel and her Jewish supporters to Nazis, something incomparably odious and beyond acceptance by civilized people. A country’s obligation is first to its safety and not to the propaganda efforts of those hoping and planning turmoil and destruction.  Israel must first choose self-defense over fear of criticism, especially criticism by those officials and members of the media all too eager and ready to pounce on Israel at any moment.

Both Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have chosen to protect the Democrat Party by not acknowledging Omar and Tlaib's anti-Semitism and their association with those calling for Israel's disappearance.  Acknowledgement of this reality would require them to censure the two and place limitations on their congressional assignments. Instead their statements are tantamount to blaming Trump and Israel, as if the two women are innocent swans treated unfairly by Israel. Tlaib and Omar are not human rights heroes, rather operatives intent on destroying a legitimate state and its people.

Rabbi Aryeh Spero is president of Caucus for America, author of "Push Back: Reclaiming our American Judeo-Christian Spirit," and spokesman for the National Conference on Jewish Affairs.

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