‘The Squad’ of Cowards

Three million people under siege. Constant bombardment by air and land since April. Hospitals, schools, markets, and even bread bakeries targeted. Civilian deaths, mostly women and children, in the tens of thousands. Numerous aid organizations are warning that a final assault planned for the next few weeks could turn “the current humanitarian emergency into a catastrophe of proportions previously unseen.”

Is this the West Bank of Israel/Palestine where “squad” members Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and (possibly) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are heading?

No. But it’s just a few hundred miles north. It is Idlib, Syria, where the murderous Syrian regime of Bashar Assad and his Russian enablers – who have already slaughtered more people than Israel has in all its wars – are about to murder more. Out of a pre-civil war population of 22 million, over 400,000 Syrians have died, some 13 million require humanitarian aid, and five million are refugees. The suffering is horrendous: poison gas attacks, torture chambers, targeted bombing of schools and hospitals.

I am against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. I long for the day when Israelis and Palestinians can put aside their brutal past and engage each other in the modernity of economic development in a shared land. I have visited the West Bank many times over several decades and have seen first-hand the counter-productiveness of the political posturing of both sides. Religious fanaticism of all stripes is alien to my secular world view.

However, the focus of “the squad” on this one small conflict to the exclusion of all others has me perplexed.

The world is awash in horror. The Congo, Kashmir, Myanmar, Tibet, and the Uighurs in China are all experiencing human rights abuses, suffering, and slaughter on a scale far greater than Palestinians in the West Bank. Actually, more people were murdered in Chicago last year than Palestinians killed by Israelis.

So why the focus on the West Bank by “the squad,” and what are the ramifications of their trip?

First, and why I call them cowards, is that the West Bank is easy to visit. Going to the conflict in The Congo is very hard to do. Security is non-existent, and you could get hurt. And let’s see “the squad” get a visa for a visit to Tibet or to see how the Uighurs are doing in their reeducation camp lockdown. The Rohingya in Myanmar? Doesn’t seem that important that tens of thousands of Muslims have been killed by Buddhist nationalists. Let’s not forget that mass rape has also been a part of that ethnic cleansing. The Rohingya will have to suffer and die in silence.

Then there is Syria. Right next door, just a quick drive away. They could help stop the impending slaughter in Idlib by bringing attention to the region’s plight, but that too would distract from their real mission.

Their real mission, in my opinion, is to focus on Israeli, and by extension, Jewish crimes. It seems like their sole foreign policy focus. I have not heard one word from “the squad” about any other region of the world. It seems all the evil afoot is in Israel.

Supporters of Israel and the Israeli press have suggested specific places for “the squad” to visit: hospitals in which Israeli doctors treat Palestinian children with cancer, markets where Jews and Arabs shop for dinner side by side, courts where Palestinians sit on the bench, and even the legislature where Arab parties that support Palestinian rights have a voice and a vote. These are all good ideas.

However, I would suggest that “the squad” broaden their vision and stop enabling the truly evil forces of the world to continue in their murderous ways. Their focus on Israel is a distraction that has and will cost more people more misery and death than even they could imagine.

One would only hope they could look in the mirror and ask themselves how they fell into this Israel-centric thinking in the first place.

About the Author
Jonathan Russo has been observing Israel and its policies since he first visited in 1966. He is a businessman in New York City.