Israel met with strong criticism on 15 August for banning elected US politician Rashida Tlaib – the first ever Palestinian-American congresswoman – from visiting occupied Palestine. The occupying state then said it would consider allowing her to visit relatives if she promised “not to act to promote boycotts against Israel”. But as people in the US rushed to show solidarity with Tlaib, she insisted she would not “bow down to [Israel’s] oppressive & racist policies”:
Israel had previously barred Tlaib and fellow congresswoman Ilhan Omar from visiting East Jerusalem and the West Bank (i.e. Palestine, not Israel) over their support for the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The US House of Representatives recently gave implicit justification to this Israeli policy by voting overwhelmingly to condemn the BDS movement. Only a small number of congress members opposed the resolution. Tlaib, meanwhile, put all of the resolution’s backers to shame with a powerful statement in defence of free speech.
For many people, Israel’s position came as no surprise:
The racist Trump-Netanyahu alliance
Since becoming US president, Trump has worn his pro-Israel bias on his sleeve shamelessly. He controversially recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. He moved the US embassy there. And he sparked outrage around the world for doing so.
Trump has also called for official recognition of Israel’s authority over stolen Syrian land. And he has formed a close relationship with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu; the man who oversaw Israel’s war crimes during its 2014 attack on Gaza (the one that reportedly killed at least 1,483 Palestinian civilians).
All of that is despite the US being fully aware of Israel’s crimes. Since 2000, for example, Israeli armed forces or settlers have reportedly killed over 2,000 Palestinian children.
Trump has also used Israel as an excuse for spewing racist bile against elected US politicians who oppose him. And this week, he openly encouraged Israel to ban Tlaib and Omar from visiting occupied Palestine:
All progressives must stand up and be counted
Fortunately, Tlaib and Omar are not alone. And numerous progressives have stood alongside them in solidarity while slamming Israel’s travel ban:
However, one Jewish Voice for Peace activist has stressed that progressives shouldn’t let the Democratic Party establishment off the hook. She argued that Democratic elites have failed miserably at holding Israel to account for its crimes. She also pointed out that:
for months, and in fact years now, they’ve been working against the [BDS] movements, trying to pass legislation against the [BDS] movement, calling it antisemitic. So they have contributed to the demonisation and delegitimisation of these congresswomen which resulted in this action.
Trump and Netanyahu are very much part of a violent, racist, elitist alliance that is gaining strength around the world. And liberal centrists – like those still at the helm of the Democratic Party – are clearly hindering the fight against that toxic, hard-right alliance. Tlaib and her progressive supporters, on the other hand, are at the forefront of the resistance. So they deserve all the support we can give them.
Featured image via screenshot and U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv