Tlaib, Omar, and Other Silliness
Rather than discuss the refusal of the Israeli government to allow Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar into Israel to engage in whatever mischief they were planning on engaging in (well, except for Tlaib who was given permission to visit her saintly grandmother on the West Bank, but then decided that visiting her grandmother wasn't as important as hating Israel, so she refused to go - oh, and except for the fact that they both could have gone with the original delegation, but they didn't because it wouldn't have allowed for their personal grandstanding), let's take a look at some of the reactions.
Warning: These reactions aren't always pretty, especially when they're by Jews, or people who call themselves Jews and who parade their Judaism when they need it to feign moral authority.
The Detroit Free Press gave Alana Alpert precious column inches in order to write a piece that made us at MJAC cry, "Oy vey is mir!"
I join progressive Jewish leaders in Detroit and throughout Michigan to say loudly and clearly that our community is united with Tlaib and against those targeting her with these divisive attacks.
Unfortunately for Trump and his allies, these efforts to muddy the waters and distract our focus are failing. In 2018, voters from across the country came together to elect the most diverse Congress in American history on a bold progressive agenda. In Michigan, Democrats who forcefully reject the failed policies of the Trump administration swept our statewide races — including our governor. We made Trump’s biggest fear — a coalition of Americans united by a shared progressive vision — into a reality. And when Trump tweeted his divisive, racist comments, Congress formally condemned him, with the backing of the Jewish community.
We are not going to fall for Trump’s distractions. Instead, we’re going to keep up our momentum. Detroit Jews and our allies — Muslim communities, communities of color, immigrants, the LGBTQ community — will always come together to support those, like Tlaib, who are dedicated to defeating Trump’s agenda and building a country in which all of us can have what we need. a country moving ever closer, through its legal structures, to the Torah's vision of a body politic supported by just laws: "Indeed, there shall be no one impoverished among you" (Deut. 15:4).
Trump Derangement Syndrome is the least of the issues here.
Michigan Attorney General, Dana Nessel has also released a statement:
"I am extremely disappointed that the Israeli government has adopted the bigoted political tactics of Donald Trump by barring two duly elected members of the U.S. Congress from entering the country. As both a Jew and personal friend of Rep Tlaib, I am outraged that she continues to face vile attacks simply for who she is and for doing her job. Rashida does not judge a person based on religion, race, national origin, sexual orientation or any other classification. She fights on behalf of those she feels are being oppressed, whether it be in her district or around the world. Donald Trump’s strategy of pitting Americans against each other knows no bounds, and politicizing the U.S.-Israel relationship toward that end is a new low. While I am a state official without decision-making authority on this, I stand in solidarity with Rep Tlaib and the thousands of Michiganders who chose her to represent them in Congress."
Maybe some of Tlaib's best friends really are Jewish.
But is Jewish Voice for Peace really Jewish?
The Detroit News reported that around 60 people attended the event in Detroit’s Pallister Park organized by Jewish Vote for Peace, a new group that describes itself as the sister organization to Jewish Voice for Peace and as its political and advocacy arm. Jewish Voice for Peace supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
Organizers called the event “Shabbat in the Park with Rashida.” Video from the scene showed attendees reciting prayers and singing songs in Hebrew and holding signs with the slogan “Dignity from Detroit to Palestine” (Tlaib represents Michigan’s 13th congressional district, which includes parts of Detroit).
On the other hand, Vic Rosenthal is taking some American Jews to task:
Although I might argue with the participants in these demonstrations about whether their religious practice is actually Judaism (I call it “Tikkunism”), I believe that they have a right to their religious beliefs. Although I think that Tisha b’Av has nothing to do with immigration policy, I think that they have a right to believe whatever they want to.
What they do not have a right to do, what I find infuriating, what exemplifies their arrogance and lack of respect for personal boundaries, is to insist (“this is personal for the Jewish community … this is a deeply Jewish thing to do”) that they speak in the name of all Jews and Judaism.
Of course they do not speak for “the Jewish community!” Who gave them that right? There is no reason they should not demonstrate – as progressives, as Democrats, as concerned Americans. But not as Jews.
There is also their misuse of the Holocaust metaphor. Seriously, is temporarily detaining illegal border crossers and asylum seekers anything like shooting and gassing millions of people because they are Jews? Are they ignorant enough to think so? As the saying goes, “if everything is the Holocaust, then nothing is the Holocaust.”
And proving that on occasion, even The Forward can show some sense, here is Izabella Tabarovsky calling out Leftist anti-Semitism. And there is a whole lot of it these days that is not being addressed:
When anti-Semitism is on the rise, as it is now, one ingredient for putting it in check is a robust response to anti-Semitic incidents from civil society and government officials. It sends a signal to the offending party and the rest of society that this particular form of bigotry is not tolerated. Silence from those quarters is tantamount to condoning and legitimizing it.
We enter an altogether different territory, however, when high-profile political figures themselves promote anti-Semitic content. A reaction then is crucial.
And yet, so far none has materialized from the Democratic Party.
In an attempt to coax a response, Yascha Mounk, contributing editor to the Atlantic, tweeted, copying at every Democratic presidential candidate: “Trump and Netanyahu are authoritarian populists. They are a danger to democracy and decency. But that’s no reason to pretend it’s OK to partner with organizations that publish the blood libel, or to tweet cartoons by people who ridicule the Holocaust. The silence is deafening.”
Finally, in an almost too perfect performance on how to support anti-Semitism and terrorism, here is Peter Beinart as he debates Rich Lowry. There is a video and a transcript here:
PETER BEINART, THE ATLANTIC: Palestinians don't have to be saints in order to have the basic rights we all take for granted. Miftah made an anti-Semitic statement they apologized for, and the point is when you go there -- I say this as an American Jew, my children go to Jewish day school and Judaism is the center of my life -- the first time I went to the West Bank it was a shattering experience. The only thing I could imagine that could be similar for an American would be going to visit the Jim Crow South.
When you see people living under the control of the state with no rights and they can not become citizens or vote for the control of the state that controls their lives, they do not have free movement, the need a pass to move from city to city, and they live under a military legal system. The consequences are more brutal than we could imagine sitting here.
That's it for now. I'm sure there will be more in the coming days as Tlaib, Omar, and their enablers stretch this fiasco for as long as they can.