Here’s an item for the PEP file: Progressive Except Palestine, that malady of liberal politics in the United States.
Today 60 members of the Republican National Committee are flying off to Israel and occupied Palestine at the behest of a rightwing Christian organization called the American Family Association. The trip is said to cost $400,000. Reince Priebus, the head of the RNC, and party secretary Susie Hudson are reported to be on the junket.
As a result, the American Family Association fired an official who had made repugnant statements about the US being a Christian country.
Then Rachel Maddow covered the hullabaloo on MSNBC. She too focused on the AFA’s bigoted record (video doesn’t load or I’d quote it verbatim). As Nadia Saah wrote on the MSNBC site:
Rachel, I appreciate that you’re troubled by the AFA’s position that America was ‘established as a Christian nation in the name of God and for the advancement of the Christian faith’ – But how do you feel about Israel as a Jewish State, created at the expense of the indigenous Palestinians who were driven out from their homes in 1948 in order to make Israel more purely Jewish? And about the 600k+ illegal Jewish settlers in the West bank who, with the full support of the Israeli government, are stealing what is left of Palestinian land ?– About Israel’s law of return for Jews only, and the 50+ discriminatory laws that undermine the rights of non-Jews inside Israel?
Good luck, Ms. Saah; but I’ve never heard Rachel Maddow talk about Palestinian human rights.
As for the Southern Poverty Law Center, it is a leading organization in the U.S. civil rights movement, founded in Montgomery, Alabama, 44 years ago. Its letter of complaint to the Republican National Committee praises Israel as the refuge for Jews worldwide, without any reference to Palestinians. Writes Richard Cohen, the head of the Southern Poverty Law Center:
“Given that the disease of anti-Semitism is flaring throughout the world, we certainly understand your desire to show your commitment to Israel at this time. But accepting funding from an extremist group like the AFA would make a mockery of that commitment and legitimize its extremism.”
The SPLC regards the AFA as a “hate group… due to its persistent use of falsehoods to demonize the LGBT community,” Jews, and other minorities, including statements by the fired official, Bryan Fischer, suggesting that “Jews are second-class citizens” and “we are a Christian nation, and not a Jewish or Muslim one.”
But Palestinians are second-class citizens, and Israel has created Jim Crow, apartheid conditions and worse across the occupation.
Then there’s People for the American Way, the group founded by Norman Lear. It has also come out against the trip. Its letter also has no problem with visiting Israel.
Although we have no objection to RNC members travelling to Israel, we urge you not to collaborate with those who are funding and coordinating this trip. The American Family Association and Mr. [David] Lane have made it clear that they view the Republican Party as a vehicle for ensuring that the U.S. government is operated by and for conservative Christians, at the expense of those of other faiths and no faith, and those Christians who do not share their particular beliefs.
But the trip isn’t just to Israel. It’s also to the occupied territories, according to Haaretz:
Participants will travel from the Galilee and Golan Heights to Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, [organizer David Lane] told Haaretz, with Jewish tour guides and two evangelical pastors in tow.
Haaretz also quotes an SPLC official praising Israel:
“Our issue is not with these folks going to Israel, which is an important ally and important for international policy,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project of the SPLC. “Our issue is that one of our mainstream political parties and a group with these heinous beliefs is sponsoring it.”