Media Misses More Facts

A major story about Israel that hit the news headlines late last week was the decision to prevent two US Democratic lawmakers from visiting the country because they are both prominent supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were due to visit the West Bank and East Jerusalem this week, but were denied access by the Israeli government.

The BBC reported Ms Omar’s description of the decision as:

“an insult to democratic values and a chilling response to a visit
by government officials from an allied nation.”

Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib 

However, Omar’s colleague, Rashida Tlaib, appealed the decision on the basis that she wanted to visit her elderly grandmother in the West Bank. To her surprise the Israeli government agreed to her request on compassionate grounds, as long as she agreed to certain conditions.

But then Ms Tlaib turned down the opportunity, saying in an emotional press conference that:

“Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions
meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother`s heart.”

Most of the Western Media reported the case as harsh treatment of these two congresswomen by the Israeli government. However, one American news outlet published what it saw as one of the reasons behind the ban; commenting that some of America`s largest and most prestigious newsrooms had managed to omit the details of the sponsoring group’s outright anti-Jewish bigotry.

The trip was sponsored by an organisation called Miftah, which the Washington Examiner described as ‘an exceptionally anti-Semitic group that praises Palestinian terrorists and claims Jews used the blood of Christians in the Jewish Passover. [Miftah] also publishes Neo-Nazis and calls for the destruction of Israel.’

Thus it was that another commentator wrote that the tables had been turned on Rashida Tlaib’s plot to condemn Israel; claiming that because of her hatred for Israel, Ms Tlaib was sure they would deny her request to visit her grandmother, and had wanted to use that denial to show the world an example of the behaviour of what she calls “Israel’s oppressive regime.” That plan went wrong when she was offered a visit on humanitarian grounds.

In the aftermath of these events, Ilhan Omar has used her position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee to claim that:

“Denying a visit to duly elected members of Congress is not consistent with being an ally."

Therefore, she has suggested that the USA should stop giving Israel aid until Benjamin Netanyahu stops the expansion of controversial settlements and ensures full rights for Palestinians.

However, another fact that was either missed or obscured in many of the main media articles was the fact that Israel had accepted two overlapping visits earlier this month, including 41 Democrat and 31 Republican members of Congress.

Congressional delegation of 72 in Israel
Congressional delegation of 72 in Israel

Thus it is clearly incorrect to accuse Israel of denying access to American politicians in general, they have simply denied access to two who are clearly enemies of the State of Israel and wanted to visit the country with a very different objective from 72 of their colleagues.