As Rashida Tlaib Brings Anti-Semitism into the Democratic Mainstream, the Media Turn a Blind Eye

Earlier this week, the Michigan congresswoman Rashida Tlaib drew criticism from her fellow Democrat Eliot Engel—chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee—for her plans to organize a congressional delegation to the West Bank that would not visit other parts of Israel. As Matthew Continetti explains, this is just one part of Tlaib’s broader anti-Israel agenda, which journalists are all too happy to ignore:

Tlaib is [bringing] anti-Semitic policies and rhetoric into the mainstream—and many news outlets are far too obsessed with the novelty of her identity to care. They suffer from milestone myopia—the inability to see beyond a person’s race, ethnicity, creed, and sex.

Running last August in a competitive primary to replace John Conyers, Tlaib supported a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. She also said she wanted to continue aid to Israel. These positions won her the endorsement of the progressive group J Street, and the donations that often follow its imprimatur. But as soon as she won—by fewer than 1,000 votes—Tlaib [claimed to have] changed her mind. . . . She endorsed the so-called right of return, said she stands “by the rights of people who support” the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or BDS, and called for a one-state solution. . . .

The policies she supports would abolish Israel as the national home of the Jewish people. She isn’t talking about overturning the outcome of 1967. She’s talking about overturning [Israel’s founding in] 1948. . . . By January 6, describing senators who support a GOP Senate bill that would combat BDS, Tlaib tweeted, “They forgot what country they represent.” Here was an outright accusation of dual loyalty, an old anti-Semitic trope. And an ironic one, too, considering how Tlaib [literally] wrapped herself in the flag of the Palestinian Authority on the night of her election. . . .

Tlaib’s personal history acts as cover for her fringe politics. Press outlets are so infatuated with the election of two Muslim women to Congress—Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota also backs BDS—that news stories scarcely ever mention their views on the Middle East. Last August, the New York Times published a story by Elizabeth Dias with the headline “For Rashida Tlaib, Palestinian Heritage Infuses a Detroit Sense of Community.” But Dias seemed too dumbfounded by Tlaib’s religion to devote any space to her actual foreign-policy views.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Congress, Democrats, Israel & Zionism, New York Times, Rashida Tlaib

Who Changed the Term “Nakba” into a Symbol of Arab Victimization?

April 19 2019

In contemporary Palestinian discourse, not to mention that of the Palestinians’ Western supporters, the creation of the state of Israel is known as the Nakba, or catastrophe—sometimes explicitly compared with the Holocaust. The very term has come to form a central element in a narrative of passive Palestinian suffering at Jewish hands. But when the Syrian historian Constantin Zureiq first used the term with regard to the events of 1948, he meant something quite different, and those responsible for changing its meaning were none other than Israelis. Raphael Bouchnik-Chen explains:

In his 1948 pamphlet The Meaning of the Disaster (Ma’na al-Nakba), Zureiq attributed the Palestinian/Arab flight to the stillborn pan-Arab assault on the nascent Jewish state rather than to a premeditated Zionist design to disinherit the Palestinian Arabs. “We [Arabs] must admit our mistakes,” [he wrote], “and recognize the extent of our responsibility for the disaster that is our lot.” . . . In a later book, The Meaning of the Catastrophe Anew, published after the June 1967 war, he defined that latest defeat as a “Nakba,” . . . since—just as in 1948—it was a self-inflicted disaster emanating from the Arab world’s failure to confront Zionism. . . .

It was only in the late 1980s that it began to be widely perceived as an Israeli-inflicted injustice. Ironically, it was a group of politically engaged, self-styled Israeli “new historians” who provided the Palestinian national movement with perhaps its best propaganda tool by turning the saga of Israel’s birth upside down, with aggressors turned into hapless victims, and vice-versa, on the basis of massive misrepresentation of archival evidence.

While earlier generations of Palestinian academics and intellectuals had refrained from exploring the origins of the 1948 defeat, the PLO chairman Yasir Arafat, who was brought to Gaza and the West Bank as part of the 1993 Oslo Accords and was allowed to establish his Palestinian Authority (PA) in parts of those territories, grasped the immense potential of reincarnating the Nakba as a symbol of Palestinian victimhood rather than a self-inflicted disaster. In 1998, he proclaimed May 15 a national day of remembrance of the Nakba. In subsequent years, “Nakba Day” has become an integral component of the Palestinian national narrative and the foremost event commemorating their 1948 “catastrophe.”

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More about: Arab World, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, New historians, Yasir Arafat