Trending Topics:

Tlaib’s comparison of Palestine to Jim Crow south echoes Jimmy Carter and Condi Rice

Media Analysis
on 14 Comments

The news is that Rashida Tlaib, the Palestinian-American elected to Congress from Michigan, is refusing an AIPAC trip to Israel and instead is seeking to organize a Congressional delegation to Palestine, to see the occupied territory where her own grandmother lives without any political rights. The Intercept’s Alex Kane and Lee Fang say that Tlaib likens the occupation to the Jim Crow south.

Tlaib is clear about one thing: She wants her delegation to humanize Palestinians, provide an alternative perspective to the one AIPAC pushes, and highlight the inherent inequality of Israel’s system of military occupation in Palestinian territories, which Tlaib likens to what African-Americans in the United States endured in the Jim Crow era.

On their way to Congress: Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib (left) of Michigan, and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Omar is the first Somali-American legislator elected to office in the United States. (Photo: Twitter/Rashida Tlaib)

Tlaib is in a very strong tradition in that understanding. At least two other mainstream political figures have made the analogy– and surely suffered politically for doing so.

In “President Carter: The White House Years,” the new book by Stuart Eizenstat, the power-aide relates from interviews with the former president that Jimmy Carter “increasingly took up” the Palestinians’ cause while in office and “even more so since leaving office.”

He has told me that in his visits to the West Bank, he sees the Palestinians living in conditions like the blacks in the South in which he grew up, but that the Israeli military treats them worse than the white police treat blacks; he finds them not militant or violent, but “just like your mama and daddy were when you were growing up: They want their kids to go to school and maybe get a college education; of course, the college has now been closed.”

Carter lost the presidency in some measure because of the defection of the Jewish community. “From the [1980] New York primary onward, I believe Carter was left with the view that New York Jews had not only defeated him in the primary but were also a factor in his loss in November,” Eizenstat says.

Then there’s Condi Rice. In his memoir of the Bush years, “Tested by Zion,” former national security aide Elliott Abrams recalls a meeting that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in 2006 prior to Annapolis negotiations.

“The need for permits to travel on certain roads is the kind of thing that just made me angry as a child in segregated Alabama,” Rice said to Barak.

Elliott Abrams was angered by her assertion.

This comparison was new. Never before had I heard Condi cast the Israelis as Bull Connor and the Palestinians as the civil rights movement. It was a dreadful sign of just how far she had moved away from sympathy with the Israeli position and of just how much antagonism was developing. Condi’s 2010 memoir, Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family, describes in searing fashion the insults and the harm inflicted on her own family and their community in the years before and during the civil rights struggle, making it even clearer how her emotions about Israel were changing profoundly. And on the Israeli side, such comments elicited a sense that she simply did not understand the world of the Middle East.

Abrams vigorously opposed Rice inside the Bush administration. He described her plans as “completely unrealistic — and also now becoming dangerous” and said that President George W. Bush “no longer believed what he was hearing from her.”

So: The Jim Crow analogy has been around for a long time in American politics, at least since Carter in the late 70s, and always created pushback.

Tlaib will face such pressure. She “needs to be educated” on these issues, Eliot Engel, the likely new chairman of House Foreign Affairs, assured a private AIPAC audience in New York this fall.

And the likely Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, the other day assured a pro-Israel group that Engel and other pro-Israel pols would be running committees, so you can just ignore Rashida Tlaib and other new congresspeople. “Pelosi urged those attending not to pay ‘attention to a few people who may want to go their own way,’ apparently referring to newly elected Congress members such as Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota who have been sharply critical of Israel,” Ron Kampeas reported. “[Chuck] Schumer chimed in: “You couldn’t have two stronger supporters of Israel than Nita Lowey and Eliot Engel.”

P.S. The conference that Pelosi and Schumer spoke to was sponsored by Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban. Adelson is the megadonor of the Republicans, and Saban is a megadonor to Democrats. You’d think they would be at odds. Not on Israel. That’s the nature of the Israel lobby: the issue transcends politics, and support must remain bipartisan.


Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

Other posts by .

Posted In:

14 Responses

  1. festus on December 5, 2018, 2:39 pm

    The Zionists have claimed credit for:

    1. Bringing America into WWI for the Brits;

    2. Defeating GHW Bush in 1992;

    3. Ditto Carter in 1980.

    Who knows if they were the deciding factor in any or all of these results.

    I do know that, while they have claimed credit for each of these results, it is forbidden to talk about these claims.

    • JWalters on December 5, 2018, 9:36 pm

      Jimmy Carter, in his book White House Diary describes his ongoing struggle with Begin’s bad faith “negotiations”, and being outflanked by Reagan’s capitulation to Israel (and subltly to American white racists) in their election.

      Bush 1 was resisting the Israeli settlement project, actually withholding money, and Bill Clinton outflanked him in kowtowing to Israel in their election.

      Zionists definitely brought America into WWI, in exchange for the Balfour declaration. Well-documented history, but omitted by American textbook publishers.

      • Misterioso on December 6, 2018, 10:27 am

        @JWalters, et al

        Speaking of Jimmy Carter, here’s what he stated during a meeting of the World Council of Churches in Jerusalem on January 10/05:

        “More recently, we’ve seen an abandonment of the fair and objective and balanced role of the U.S. government in the negotiations between Israel and her neighbours and sometimes enemies. Lately in particular, our president [George W. Bush] has totally complied with the desires of the Israeli Prime Minister to the detriment of the Palestinians and the detriment of their hopes for the future.

        “I personally think that Yasser Arafat did the best he could for peace. Not many of my countrymen agree. I knew him quite well. He took a heroic action in the Oslo agreement for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize. For the last 3 ½ years, as the elected President of the Palestinian people, he was kept in prison in disgrace and still expected to command the full authority of his people and he was held responsible for acts of violence.”

  2. JWalters on December 5, 2018, 9:40 pm

    Very wise of Congresswoman Tlaib to stay out of Israel.

    As we see in the suppressed Al Jazeera documentary The Lobby, the Zionists say the main battle is in the realm of ideas. And they see themselves as losing ground. Despite all the money behind their PR efforts, and all the secretive personal smears of political opponents, despite avoiding actual debates at every turn, and substituting loud indignation based on manufactured news, they can’t spin away their crimes to college students over BDS. They’re starting to look silly. I’m expecting some comedy soon.

    Congresswoman Tlaib’s focus on bringing Americans a greater understanding of the Palestinian reality is spot on. More understanding is what we need all around. Best wishes!

    • Misterioso on December 6, 2018, 11:00 am


      Your comment brings to mind the following:

      An important note to Trump, Netanyahu, Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban regarding their buddy, lackey and co-conspirator, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS). The group’s plan to suppress the Palestinians’ ongoing struggle for freedom and human rights and to launch a war against Iran has gone awry. MbS is now a pariah throughout the Arab world and also in the U.S. as well as Britain, France and Germany. His days are numbered.
      “Saudi crown prince snubbed in Algeria, delays Jordan visit amid Khashoggi crisis”

      Press TV, Dec. 4/18

      “Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has reportedly postponed a planned visit to Jordan after getting the cold shoulder in Algeria, where President Abdelaziz Bouteflika scrapped a meeting with him, citing flu.

      “Bin Salman, who has been struggling over the past weeks to distance himself from a scandal over the gruesome murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, arrived in Algeria late Sunday for a two-day visit following a stop in Mauritania.

      “The trip is part of a tour of Arab countries that the Saudi crown prince has resumed after attending the G20 summit in Argentina on the weekend. He traveled to the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Tunisia before the event.

      “Bin Salman’s visits have been overshadowed by Khashoggi’s assassination inside Riyadh’s Istanbul consulate in early October – which is believed to have been ordered by the powerful prince – as well as the bloody war he has been leading against Yemen since early 2015.”

  3. wondering jew on December 6, 2018, 4:20 am

    It was a historic day when George the father Bush went into the press room and declared his battle against the Israel lobbyists, the one against the many. Did it contribute to his defeat in 1992? Possibly. but i would blame historical trends. 12 years of republicans was enough and the democrats won the next three popular votes in reaction to it, so the vote in 92 was part of a trend and probably not influenced by the pro Israel reaction against him. Reagan won a few epic electoral victories and Bush’s first election was a Reagan III election and Bush on his own lost the presidency, lacked the political skills to connect with enough people to win the presidency on his own. (I think the 1988 Dan Quayle decision was the thing that did him in. It might have been a symptom of his political un sure footed, but it certainly seemed to reveal a hollow center to the man. why not Jack kemp? dan quayle? did him in, in the long range.)

    Jimmy Carter was a fluke getting elected and lost in a landslide the second time he ran. to propose that the lobby did him in is a type of political naivete. Jimmy Carter with his malaise speech did himself in. If he had rolled over ted kennedy in the state of new york, would that have returned the hostages. feckless jimmy carter and the hostages, but no, to blame his loss on ted kennedy’s strength in going to the convention, that is political naivete again. jimmy carter and history defeated jimmy carter, not ted kennedy. jimmy carter and his daughter amy at the debate against reagan did him in. he was feckless and the country really did not like him at the end. they wanted him out.

    but all that is besides the point. the point is that even the next democratic candidate, even if they have a clear vision of what they want to happen in terms of resolving the palestine israel conflict, will be up against the republicans who will oppose it and up against a substantial portion of the democratic party, just out of sheer inertia.

    but it’s worse than that, because with the comatose two state solution, the most logical direction for that clear vision has disappeared and in its place is something that smacks of political naivete, the beautiful one man one vote future.

    If i could see into the future I might tell you how this works out, but I only know that more practical people than me have looked at the situation and declared the one man one vote future very bleak for the jewish future and i have no reason to attribute their opinions to racism, but anything other than sincerity. there is no way for me to measure their opinions or to counter their opinions with miko peled’s optimism.

    Yet, Daniel Solomon says to remove the Zionist from my name. And in a way, like Gideon Levy says, there are only two sides, free rights for all and the status quo. (Gideon Levy who by the way chastises Nasrallah for being a trouble maker and no help to the cause.)

    So then it comes down to what is the easiest thing to chant. I have spent time in Union Square Park and sometimes it comes down to what words come out of my mouth and what phrase passes my lips and causes my heart to leap because i have caught some essence of my deep belief.

    And in this case, the voice says, give them the vote. let palestinians vote. let them have representatives in the knesset. and if not, then you are an occupier and it’s not a PR problem it’s a real problem.

    I myself am not offended when someone says of zionism that it is an army in seek of a country. there was nowhere else where such an army could have been built and the logic of this land above all other lands to the movement of jewish self reliance is self evident. so i am still a zionist. to me the line between mila 18 (leon uris) and exodus (leon uris) from primo levi’s tale of jewish partisans in the european forest, “If Not Now, When?” to the songs around the campfire in palestine fighting for a state, is the shortest distance between two points.

    but the occupation is a major f***up and these likudniks and levi eshkol and hanan porat have dragged Israel into an eternal struggle of such epic ugliness and stupidity that it is a major mess.

    • eljay on December 6, 2018, 8:28 am

      || wondering jew: … I myself am not offended when someone says of zionism that it is an army in seek of a country. there was nowhere else where such an army could have been built and the logic of this land above all other lands to the movement of jewish self reliance is self evident. … ||

      A fine example of “begging the question”.

      || … so i am still a zionist. … ||

      You believe in Jewish supremacism in/and a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of Palestine. Of course you’re still a Zionist.

    • Misterioso on December 6, 2018, 10:36 am

      @wondering jew

      Would you had the guts and moral integrity to loudly proclaim the unmitigated and screaming truth, i.e., Zionism is racist, fascistic and as predicted by eminent Jews following passage of the illegal Balfour Declaration, a disaster for all concerned.

    • Mooser on December 6, 2018, 11:15 am

      Yousah, “Yonah”!
      An eighteen-clicker comes barreling on through.

    • Mooser on December 6, 2018, 11:18 am

      ” the movement of jewish self reliance is self evident”

      ROTFLMSJAO! And now Israel and Zionism are a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Trump Corporation! What an accomplishment.

  4. wondering jew on December 7, 2018, 7:04 pm

    if i were starting from scratch in 2018, i don’t know that i would want the current situation, not so much for the damage done to the palestinians in ’48, because that was before my time and too close to the “fire” for someone this far from the fire to judge.

    zionism saved my cousins. they are not dead because of this movement. so i really cannot dismiss it.

    the body slam that zionism did to the palestinians is unbelievably horrible when faced head on, so to somehow undo it and move forward would be the idea.

    the jewish people needed an army in reaction to the european experience. it was a natural response. and the place for that army was palestine. simple. and that caused grievous damage to the palestinians. undeniable.

    and then i look forward.

    when i look forward, i get discouraged on many fronts, nonetheless i do not label zionism, other than as a life saver of my cousins’ lives. and i would want to move forward with cognizance of this history, but move forward. but the zeitgeist in israel is not to move forward. so despite my cognizance of the history, i am not on the same page as the zeitgeist.

    • oldgeezer on December 8, 2018, 12:17 am

      “not so much for the damage done to the palestinians in ’48”

      Oh yeah we knew that long ago.

      “zionism saved my cousins. they are not dead because of this movement. so i really cannot dismiss it.”

      Yeah we got that long ago too. I benefit from it so I’m ok Jack,

      What I don’t get yonah is how you reconcile any moral position position with supporting the deprivation of rights to millions of people.

      It shouldn’t be a difficult question. Your support for oppressing millions of people makes you not one iota different from any other person who supported the oppression of people in the past.

      No it doesn’t make you a nazi. It does make you equivalent to a German who turned a blind eye to the Nazi oppression of millions of people.

      zionism didn’t save a single individual.

      What did save them was the forces that defeated the Nazis. Those who gave their lives. That included the allied troops, the resisitance forces, yes, including the Jewish resistance. They were heroes.

      They gave their lives including some of my family to defeat evil.

      But zionism?

      Nope. Not one life. That wasn’t their objective. Israel may have been. The saving of lives was a mere byproduct.

      Get a grip you wannabe failed philosopher.

    • RoHa on December 8, 2018, 2:53 am

      “the jewish people needed an army in reaction to the european experience. ”

      No it didn’t.

      • Mooser on December 8, 2018, 12:58 pm

        ““the jewish people needed an army in reaction to the european experience. ”.” “WJ”

        The answer to our problems was a European style (and equipped) Jewish Army, let loose on an unmilitarized, not even politically organized people in the ME (which the Mandate had conveniently isolated) to take their land and stuff.

Leave a Reply