Squad: 1, Israel: 0. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to bar freshmen Representatives Rashida Talib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from entering the country on the heels of a tweet from President Trump has sent shock waves through the political sphere and has threatened to upend Israel’s once untarnished relationship with the United States Congress and the Democratic Party.
Let’s be frank. This is precisely what these two women want. They aim to sow the seeds of discord and eviscerate the US-Israel relationship. They despise the Jewish state not only because they view Israel through the narrow prism of Said’s Orientalism, while ignoring all nuance, and see the conflict only as an indigenous people’s struggle against a neo-colonial oppressor. They hate Israel because they are, in fact, anti-Semites. The two Congresswomen have repeatedly engaged in anti-Semitic bigotry ranging from insinuating that US aid to Israel is contingent upon Jewish money, to claiming that Israel has “hypnotized the world,” to sharing a cartoon from an artist who is so virulently anti-Semitic, his drawing won second place in Iran’s International Holocaust Cartoon Contest.
Both Talib and Omar also have voiced support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) movement, an initiative dedicated to the ultimate demise of the state of Israel through economic and demographic means. By calling for a worldwide boycott of Israeli goods and services and an unregulated Palestinian “right of return,” BDS is on its face denying Jews the right to self-determination in their ancient homeland, which is quintessential antisemitism. The founder of BDS himself has admitted that his movement would not stop if the occupation of the West Bank was terminated and has said that he “opposes a Jewish state in any part of Palestine… No Palestinian, who is not a sell-out, will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.”
Additionally, we now know that Talib and Omar’s itinerary, titled “Delegation to Palestine,” included meeting with far-left terror-promoting groups, like Miftah, which has accused Jews of the blood libel smear and praised suicide bombers. The group has promoted content from “the Research Staff of National Vanguard Books,” which the Southern Poverty Law Center notes is a neo-Nazi organization.
Regardless of the Congresswomen’s blatant antisemitism, Israel should not have drawn attention to their egregious propagandizing. The pro-Israel community now grapples with the question of how to maintain the US-Israel relationship, as Israel and Jewish’ loyalty,’ or lack thereof, two topics once considered the third rail of the nation’s politics, are increasingly being used as wedge issues.
The situation Zionist Americans now find themselves in was just as much avoidable as it is unfortunate. While supporters of the move to bar Congresswomen Talib and Omar entry into Israel have pointed to equal application of amendment No. 27 to the Entry Into Israel Law, which prohibits the entry of any foreigner who makes a “public call for boycotting Israel,” the law gives the authorities leeway in interpreting if the admission of the foreigner in question could actually lead to the imposition of a boycott of the state. The Israeli government should have taken this opportunity to consider the consequences of banning two sitting US Representatives.
President Trump is correct in his assertion that both Talib and Omar are vile anti-Semites, but the Israeli government should not have taken the bait. By banning these women, Prime Minister Netanyahu has elevated the Congresswomen status within progressive circles and hastened the “Corbynization” of the Democratic party. Moderate members in both the House and Senate have been compelled to defend Talib and Omar. The two are indeed the face of the Democratic Party, right where the President wants the two radicals to be as he heads into 2020.
While this ban may have also been politically expedient for Netanyahu, who is seeking to tether himself to the American President, an extremely popular figure in Israel, in the run-up to the September 17th Israeli elections, it is not advantageous for Israel’s long term goals, like maintaining American support. While Trump may win reelection in 2020, the GOP will not be in power forever, and the next Democratic President will remember this moment.