Opinion

Trump's Logic Means He Supports a Palestinian Right of Return

A woman holds a key with the Arabic writing, "Haifa, we will return for sure", during a rally in Gaza City to mark Nakba day on May 15, 2012.
MAHMUD HAMS / AFP PHOTO

“So interesting to see 'Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly......

….and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run.”

This is what the president of the United States tweeted Sunday about Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the four congresswomen from the Democratic Party’s progressive faction (translated into Israeli: “leftists”), none of them white, with the first two Muslim (translated into Israeli: “Zoabis”).

The squad: U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, second from left, speaks, as U.S. Reps., from left, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, listen, in Washington, on Tuesday, July 15, 2019.
\ ERIN SCOTT/ REUTERS

“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how....” Trump tweeted. He echoes, unknowingly, Miri Regev’s famous saying to her Knesset colleague Haneen Zoabi, “Go to Gaza, you traitor.” On another occasion, Regev added, “Let’s see how they treat you there.”

Like Zoabi, who was "sent back" to Gaza even though she was born in Nazareth, the women of the Squad were "sent back to their own countries" even though, apart from Omar, who was born in Somalia, they were all born in the United States.

But an interesting situation was created here. Tlaib was born and raised in Detroit and represents Michigan in Congress, but she’s the daughter of Palestinian parents who immigrated to the United States in the '70s – her father is from East Jerusalem and her mother is from a village near Ramallah. According to Trump’s tweet, Tlaib should return to the place she came from; that is, Palestinian East Jerusalem. It appears then that Trump believes that Palestinian refugee status is hereditary, in contrast to his administration’s policy.

Also, the Trump administration prides itself on "removing from the table" the issue of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by moving the embassy against the Palestinians' will. Now it plans to use the same dubious system for solving geopolitical conflicts, centering around the complete adoption of Israel’s position while sticking a finger in the Palestinians’ eye and “removing from the table” another core issue in the negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians: a right of return.

It’s not clear how Tlaib could, even if she wanted to, “go back to where she came from,” if Israel, under Trump’s auspices, is acting to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, to leave East Jerusalem in the hands of those who occupied it and to prevent Palestinian refugees from returning to their historical homeland.

The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, by the way, advocates the end of the occupation, recognizing the Palestinian Arabs’ full equality and protecting the Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homes. Apparently Trump is a full partner to the BDS movement’s aspirations. Without them Tlaib would never be able to "go back to her own country."

Ironically, Tlaib is indeed trying “to fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” She and Omar plan to visit Israel and the West Bank “to learn about the occupation.”

But here’s the thing: They’ve both expressed support for the BDS in the past, so under Amendment No. 28 to the Entry into Israel Law (dubbed the boycott law) they should be prohibited from entering Israel. Only the Foreign Ministry, that is, Netanyahu, has the authority to let them enter. It will be very interesting to see how the prime minister decides on this issue.