I spoke today as the proud granddaughter of a strong, loving Palestinian woman in opposition to #HRes326. We must take bolder actions to ensure human rights are upheld in Israel and that Palestinians and Black Israelis are treated with the equality every human being deserves. pic.twitter.com/G3IlRcoVM6
— Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (@RepRashida) December 6, 2019
Damn if Rashida Tlaib doesn’t continue to amaze with her courage and moxie. The first time I noticed her was when she defied J Street, which had endorsed her, and by affirming BDS and a one-state solution. Until the last election, no member of Congress would dare to take such a position without being willing to commit political hari-kiri. But Tlaib did not suffer for it. In fact, she flourished.
For some reason, she has not raised the ire that Rep. Ilan Omar has, despite the fact that their views and backgrounds share many similarities. I’m not sure why one is a lightning rod and the other far less threatening.
This week, the House forwarded HR 326 for consideration. It was a typical milquetoast statement by Congress that endorsed the two-state solution. But it couldn’t even muster the courage to call out Israeli Occupation as illegal:
This resolution expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that only a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can ensure Israel’s survival as a secure Jewish and democratic state and fulfill the legitimate aspirations for a Palestinian state. It also expresses the sense that any U.S. proposal to achieve a just, stable, and lasting solution should expressly endorse a two-state solution and discourage steps that would put a peaceful resolution further out of reach.
Presumably, it was a response to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement that the U.S. no longer views Israeli settlements as violations of international law. This new policy abandons five decades of U.S. consensus, throwing it to the winds. Along with Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the Golan as sovereign Israeli territory, it cuts the legs out from under all previous U.S. policy. With the prospect of unveiling the vaunted Trump-Kushner Middle East peace plan, Congressional Democrats apparently worried the train was leaving the station and they better make a two-state reaffirmation before departure.
When Tlaib rose to speak, she not only rejected the too-little-too-late nature of the Resolution, she offered a far bolder and compelling alternative: a one-state solution. She didn’t use those terms in her speech. She didn’t have to. By rejecting the two-state solution, she was implicitly endorsing one-state. And no one has ever done that on the floor of Congress:
I rise today as the granddaughter of a strong Palestinian woman, my sity. And for me to stand up for her human dignity, I must oppose HR 326. This Resolution not only endorses an unrealistic, unattainable solution, one that Israel had made impossible, but also one that legitimizes inequality, ethnic discrimination and inhuman conditions. PM Netanyahu and the Likud Party have actively fought against a two-state solution and took steps to ensure its demise. They increased their illegal taking of Palestinian homes, imprisoned more Palestinian chidlren than ever before, and are building walls right now to annex the West Bank and other Palestinian villages.
Moreover, Israel’s Nation-State Law, states that only Jews have the right to self-determination and has eliminated the political rights of the Palestinian people, and effectively made them second-class citizens. Separate but equal didn’t work in our country, and I can’t see it possible in other countries. Given our nation’s history of segregation, we should recognize when such injustices are occuring. We cannot be honest brokers for peace if we refuse to use [in this resolution] the words: “illegal occupation by Israel.”
Our country and the U.S. Congress must condemn these undemocratic actions. We must take bolder actions to enture human rights are upheld in Israel and that Palestinians and Black Israelis are treated with the equality every human being deserves.
To honor my Sity Muftiah, who lives in the occupied West Bank, Palestine, I am unable to support this resolution today. She deserves better.
Noteworthy as well, is Tlaib’s shout-out to intersectionality by linking the struggle for Palestinian rights to African-American civil rights. Just as Blacks fought Jim Crow and as Black South African’s fought apartheid, the Palestinian struggle is rooted in the same values. We, as Americans have long embraced this call for justice for our own African-American brothers and sisters. We must not deny the same rights to Palestinians.
The Resolution passed handily with a 226-188 vote. The remarkable thing was that most Republicans voted No on even a parve statement like this. In other words, they too reject a two-state solution. Not because they believe Palestinian rights are being derogated as Tlaib does; but because they reject a two-state solution out of hand. An approach in lockstep with Israel’s Judeo-supremacist government.
Ron Lauder and the Anti-Semitism ‘Police’
On a related matter, pro-Israel billionaire Ronald Lauder announced he was launching a new organization devoted to rooting out anti-Semitism in American politics, the Anti-Semitism Accountability Project. It might as well be calked the “Anti Semitism PAC,” because that’s its purpose: to turn anti Semitism into a campaign cudgel.
Though the Republican donor claims his outfit is non-partisan, and even holds Rep. Steve King out as the type of figure he will be targeting, he clearly has other fish to fry. Without a shred of doubt, his main targets will be progressive Democrats who take positions inimical to Israel and its interests (as he defines them). Among them will be Reps. Ilan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, and any others who have the temerity to raise their head above the parapet to support BDS or a one-state solution.
The Israeli government has given its marching orders to its advocates and apologists throughout the world. Priority Number 1 appears to be getting governments to adopt IHRA, the faux “anti-Semitism definition,” as the law of the land. The French parliament just adopted it. Similar resolutions are before other European legislatures. The U.S. Congress has legislation proposed, but not yet adopted on the same subject.
Lauder, who once owned a major Israeli TV station, has close relationships with Bibi Netanyahu and other key Israeli leaders. In fact, he is one of five foreign billionaires under investigation for potential corrupt dealings with the PM. In fact, if one were cynical, one might suspect that Lauder timed this announcement to pre-empt negative fall-out that might ensue should he be exposed as one of those oligarchs who enabled Bibi and Sara to live “in the style to which they’ve grown accustomed.”
Lauder undoubtedly has coordinated his new operation with the Israeli government, including the Strategic Affairs Ministry, which is responsible for the global attack on BDS and other “delegitimization” efforts against Israel.
As to the mission of the new venture: it is a tired old war-horse. Anti-Semitism sells. It sizzles in the political marketplace. Republicans (and Democrats) have made careers out of hawking it to their voters. Jews of a certain age still react like Pavlov’s dog when the anti-Semitism bell sounds. And Lauder is of precisely that generation.
Jewish youth have no such obsessions. And there is no future in the anti-Semitism industry as far as they’re concerned.
That’s why there is such a generational conflict between the Lauders of the world and progressive new leaders like “The Squad.” The latter rejects the old shibboleths formerly enforced by the Israel Lobby. They are boldly striking out on new paths which endorse Palestinian rights, hold Israel accountable for its offenses, and offer formerly taboo alternatives like one-state.
Lauder’s anti-Semitism initiative is designed to combat the new generation. It will seek to make these progressive politicians pay for stepping over the Lobby’s red lines. It will also seek to tar BDS and similar movements for Palestinian rights with the anti-Semitic and terrorism brush. That’s why it’s critical that Jewish progressive groups like If Not Now, Jewish Voice for Peace and others take notice of these efforts and push back against them forcefully. They must not be permitted to poison American politics.
One element of the response must be to expose the naked interference in American domestic politics of a foreign government. Due to the Trump impeachment, we’re hearing a great deal about Russian intervention on behalf of Trump in the 2016 election. Trump’s supporters are offering a fake counter-narrative claiming it was Ukraine that interfered, not Russia. But hardly anyone is calling out the types of Israeli influence-peddling in our politics that I’ve outlined here. It must not only be exposed, but called out and combatted.