The JCRC, the committee of JewishColorado whose mission is to “advocate for policy issues that affect the Colorado Jewish community,” recently published a letter criticizing the Israeli government’s refusal to allow US Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar ‘s Palestinian propaganda tour. The letter stated, “… we are deeply troubled by the Israeli government’s decision to deny sitting members of the U.S. Congress from entering Israel.”
In what ways was this public condemnation of Israel’s decision treasonous?
Aiding the enemy
The JCRC wrote that they support Israel visits for American politicians for giving them “a more complete picture of the region’s various perspectives.” Had that been the purpose of Tlaib and Omar’s visit, they would have accepted the invitation to join the Democrat and Republican Congressional groups that recently toured Israel.
By contrast, Tlaib and Omar’s proposed itinery stated expressly that they would be traveling only to “Palestine,” with zero meetings with Israeli leaders or visits outside of the West Bank. Worse even, the tour was organized and sponsored by Miftah. Miftah, run by Hanan Ashwari, avidly supports BDS and promotes anti-Israel propaganda.
Had they been allowed into Israel, Tlaib and Omar would have been able to broadcast non-stop Palestinian anti-Israel perspectives to the worldwide media. What a clever way for them to use their status as US Congresspersons as a megaphone for amplifying anti-Israel false narratives, outright lies, and encouragement to join the BDS movement.
The JCRC used its platform of leadership in the Denver Jewish community in a way that could be seen as similarly, if perhaps unintentionally, perfidiously anti-Israel. Why were they encouraging divisiveness between the Colorado Jewish community and Israel? Why were they advocating on behalf of supporters of action that would have harmed Israel? Of all the issues for which they could be advising Colorado Jews, why did they pick one on which they felt they could criticize Israel?
The JCRC justified their support of allowing advocates of BDS to enter Israel for a propaganda tour because the spokespeople also happen to be US Congresswomen. That status was in fact all the more reason not to allow the two women to broadcast their propaganda from Israeli land. The notion that “respect” for Congresspeople should outweigh consideration of the harm these Congresswomen were aiming to perpetrate is dangerously naive. Nice guys finish last.
A broader perspective
The JCRC’s criticism of Israel’s decision to ban Omar and Tlaib’s visit to Israel advocates for the too-familiar Jewish stance of appeasement. In pre-war Germany, the stance of ‘Don’t speak out; don’t rock the boat; standing up for ourselves will just make things worse’ did not save the Jews. To the contrary, in the early stages of Nazi propaganda, this stance allowed hate attitudes to proliferate.
A second lesson from the early days of German anti-Semitism: the Nazis used a boycott of Jewish business to convey to Germans the attitudes toward Jews that eventually allowed the killing of 6 million of our brethren. The Palestinian-inspired BDS movement is following the same playbook. Jewish support for any BDS supporters aids Jews’ as well as Israel’s enemies.
While I am not intending to suggest that “It could happen here,” mistakes are for learning. Abetting Israel’s enemies such as Tlaib and Omar for fear that others may dislike us reeks of a highly dangerous self-preservation strategy.
Colorado’s JCRC was not alone. Far too many American Jewish leaders and organizations have issued similarly uninformed, arrogant and harmful criticism of Israel’s legitimate self-protective decision. Criticism of Israel and support for BDS already are far too common on college campuses, and far too frequently heard from multiple Democratic candidates for the American Presidency. American Jewish leaders should not be fanning these flames.
Let us as a Jewish people learn from our past mistakes, stand up for ourselves, and join in celebrating—not in deprecating and feeding hatred designed to destroy our Jewish homeland. Israel needs American Jewish support, not aid for its enemies.
Reprinted, with minor editing, from the Intermountain Jewish News, Aug. 23, 2019, by permission.