The PBS News Hour led off its broadcast last night with coverage of the Israeli ban on U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar entering Palestine. But the broadcast host interviewed no Palestinian or American defender of Palestinians. Just two Zionists: Danny Ayalon, the former Israeli ambassador, and California Congressman Brad Sherman.
Sherman launched an attack on the Boycott campaign that Tlaib and Omar support.
This is not your regular boycott movement. I mean, I’ve got a friend or two who won’t buy a Toyota because they want Japan to stop harvesting whales or stop killing whales. They’re not trying to force every Japanese citizen out of Asia and to be killed or somehow drifted into the Pacific.
But the international leaders of the BDS movement are trying — not try to get Israel to change this or that policy, but to try to remove every Jew from the Middle East. Just as Hitler wanted a Jewish-free Europe, this BDS group wants a Jewish-free Middle East.
The BDS campaign has never had such goals. It is a nonviolent pressure campaign to ensure Palestinian rights: an end to occupation, right of refugees to return, and equal rights inside Israel.
Host Amna Nawaz did not push back at all on the false characterization. She also accepted the idea that Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are anti-Semites, when she asked Ayalon about anti-semites Israel has welcomed.
Israel has also welcomed people who have clearly used anti-Semitic rhetoric in the past. I’m talking about Hungary’s leader Viktor Orban, also an Italian leader, Matteo Salvini. Both of them have been anti-Semites in some of their political language. They were welcomed to Israel. So, what’s the difference?
The New York Times passed along the same slur as fact yesterday in an article on the banning:
Ms. Omar… has drawn criticism even from fellow Democrats for engaging in anti-Semitic tropes in criticizing Israel…
Omar has been accused of anti-semitism for raising legitimate political questions: 1. She cited the role of campaign contributions in influencing Congress on Israel policy– and in doing so stated a truth that even Jewish members of Congress have acknowledged. 2. She later questioned the “allegiance to a foreign country” of political actors — by implication, a criticism of the role of the Israel lobby that many Jewish writers have also raised. And that Senator J.W. Fulbright once raised as a policy issue about Israel lobbyists.
One must not question U.S. support for Israel! The New York Times editorial page set the tone yesterday by lamenting that Trump and Netanyahu were risking bipartisan U.S. support for Israel.
How sad that two leaders — each desperate to look tough to his own base — are risking a bipartisan relationship built between these two nations over generations.
Maybe it’s good that American politicians criticize Israel? No, the editorial had little to say about Palestinian conditions or the boycott campaign; and was marked by deference to Israel.
It has long been Israel’s mantra that critics of its policies should come see for themselves, and the country is certainly strong enough to handle any criticism from two members of Congress.
“Israel certainly has been strong enough to ignore all criticisms of its human rights violations, in large part because of that bipartisan support the Times fears is being lost,” Donald Johnson writes to me. “This piece reads like something written by people more concerned about Israel’s image than Israel’s human rights record. No deep dive into history is needed for this one. It is such a dumb shallow piece that shows where their real concerns lie.”
How bracing by comparison was Bernie Sanders on Chris Hayes:
“If Israel doesn’t want members of the United States Congress to visit their country…maybe they can respectfully decline the billions of dollars that we give to Israel.”
H/t James North and Adam Horowitz.