A Missed Opportunity

For the record: I am in favor of a two-state solution, and I continue to believe that Israel and the Palestinian people can and must live side by side and in peace.

For the record:  I firmly believe that the millions upon millions of dollars sent by Iran to Hamas party leaders who rule the Palestinian people living in Gaza do not benefit the people living there.  The abject poverty and the lack of economic opportunity for the people of the Gaza Strip speak for themselves.  Iran’s funds go to  arming the terrorist leaders and their military followers with ever more sophisticated weaponry.  That weaponry has but one purpose: to annihilate Israel, and murder as many of Israel’s citizens as possible.

For the record:  Despite public disagreements between the Palestinian Authority and its ministers with the Israeli Government, there is a quiet and very successful cooperation between the two.

And, so:  When the members of the United States Congress wish to visit Israel it is my belief that:

A)  Israel should welcome the duly and democratically elected members of this body of the American Government.  This is the body that represents the will of the American People.  The American People who, through their representatives state, time and again:  We Support Israel.

B)  Whether within that Congress there are those who are Republicans or Democrats, whether there are those who are Christians or Jews or Muslims or for that matter, any faith whatsoever, has no bearing on the fact that they represent the people of the United States of America.

C)  In recent years, the government of Israel has invited world leaders with clear fascist and extreme right-wing political views, opened its doors to those espousing views detrimental to the Jewish People, to the Israeli Knesset, adding insult to injury by inviting those same leaders to Yad V’Shem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Museum.

D)  When an opportunity provided itself to have Democrat Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib  visit Israel it is my firm belief that the government of Israel, its Ministers and especially the Prime Minister Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, should have opened the doors of this, the ONLY democracy in the Middle East to those Representatives.

E)  By denying entry to ANY member of the United States Congress, Israel plays into the xenophobic, racist and bigoted views held by the current American President and his supporters.  Israel will miss an opportunity to show, specifically to Representatives Omar and Tlaib, what REALLY goes on in Israel. In Rahat. In Fureidis. In Baqa al-Gharbiyye. In Ein Hawd. In Umm al-Fahm. In Haifa. In Beer Sheva. Muslims, Christians, Jews, Druze, all living together. All citizens of Israel.

F) By denying entry to Ms Omar and Ms Tlaib, the Israeli Government led by Mr. Netanyahu, missed a great opportunity to show these Representatives that perhaps the BDS movement these Representatives support is one-sided, bigoted and so far from any truth that exists on the ground.

In conclusion, I deplore the decision made, albeit under pressure from the current American President, to deny entry to Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.  Rather than taking them to the border with Syria and showing them where Israel rendered medical aid to Syrians fleeing the horrors of the Assad regime, these Representatives will likely not see that border.

Rather than taking them to Jerusalem, to the new and the ancient, to the Haram esh-Sharif or Temple Mount, and the Al Aqsa Compound, the Armenian Quarter, the ancient restorations in the Jewish Quarter, such as the Cardo, the Via Dolorosa and the Holy Christian sites and churches now open to the world entire, rather than taking them to Nazareth and Capernaum, rather than taking them to Daliat Al Karmel…well let’s just keep them away.  Let’s just give them more reasons to believe the lies and propaganda of the supporters of BDS.  Let’s allow them to continue to believe the lies perpetrated by the enemies of Israel.

I just don’t get it.  We invited President Anwar Sadat and we made peace with Egypt. We invited King Hussein of Jordan and we made peace with Jordan.  We sat with our enemies in Oslo and although that peace with the Palestinian People is still an elusive goal, it is nevertheless still my goal and the goal of many Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Mr. Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, it is not too late to reverse your decision and to say yes to Representatives Omar and Tlaib. Yes, welcome to Israel.

About the Author
Born in Israel, Yuval emigrated as a baby to Austria and then Canada. He returned to live in Israel in '71 until '91. His military service was in Golani Brigade's 13th Battalion (including Yom Kippur War) with reserve duty as a tank commander and later a liaison officer in the IDF Liaison Unit. He now resides in Pennsylvania, USA.
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