Wednesday, October 23, 2019

We understand that this is a fraught issue. In its entire existence as a state, Israel has permitted critics of every level to tour the country, to meet with government officials and members of Knesset. Many of those same critics have gone on so-called “Israel-warts-and-all” tours, which include meetings with Israeli officials in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, and Palestinian officials in Ramallah, or with Israeli Arabs in East Jerusalem.

We realize that some charged there is a difference, this time. Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar are not just critics of the Jewish State. Many people in our community believe they are enemies of Israel who would stop at nothing to see the Jewish State and its Jewish inhabitants pushed into the sea. 

It is true that these two representatives are not just supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement; they are solidly behind the use of flagrant falsehoods such as apartheid and genocide when referring to Israel. This is certainly disturbing. 

Reaction from Americans been divisive and upsetting in many ways. It has included calls on Israel to respect what Tlaib and Omar represent in terms of the US House of Representatives. 

We also looked at the congresswomens’ itinerary online, as many other did this week, and we noted it did not include a single meeting with an Israeli official, it’s not like they sought to visit and see for themselves today’s vibrant, beautiful, modern and multicultural Israel in the first place. Their trip to “Palestine” was planned by the terror-supporting, anti-Israel group Miftah. It should go without saying that Israel is under no obligation to admit these two supporters of terrorism against Israel and the Jewish people.

The 2019 political environment we face empowers the likes of Omar and Tlaib. Their own party’s silence on this is concerning. A nearby Congressman in NJ, Josh Gottheimer, has supported their right to their visit. We tread lightly here; Is his action giving the congresswomen a license to continue pursuing their dangerous goal of undoing the American-Israel relationship?

Our elected representatives need to be asked publicly and on the record what they are doing to stop this unraveling, especially as we approach the presidential election season and next summer’s conventions. It’s here in the US where American Jews might see their political loyalties tested as long as Tlaib, Omar, Sen. Bernie Sanders and others continue to shine bright in the media spotlight. While we don’t feel that President Trump was correct in saying that American Jews who support the Democrats are disloyal, not at all, we need to remember there are 435 members of the House, and yet in recent months these two enemies of Israel and ostensibly the US, have received more ink than all of the other House members combined. This is concerning. 

We need to change the conversation and get back to talking about the issues that unite us, not the people who seek to divide us. 

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