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Tlaib and Omar Make Things Clear About South Africa’s Successor

U.S. lawmakers Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib helped reveal the truth about Israel to their country and the world

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilan Omar at a news conference at the Capitol, July 15, 2019.
Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilan Omar at a news conference at the Capitol, July 15, 2019.Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Two American lawmakers helped reveal the truth about Israel to their country and the world. Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar should be thanked for this. And President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in their own way, helped uncover the truth. They are also to be thanked. The two of them, who banned the two legislators from entering Israel, saved us from another false representation.

After all the human rights activists who have been barred from entering Israel, it took the ban on two American congresswomen to show that Israel is one of the only countries in the world that turns visitors away based on political views or opposition to a country’s regime.

Rashida Tlaib at a Shabbat service in Detroit held by Jewish Voice for PeaceCredit: Haaretz

The Zionist left did its part as well. Stav Shaffir and Tamar Zandberg were distraught over the “damage to Israel’s image” that would be caused, so they advised the government on how to keep defrauding the world and claim that there is no apartheid while there is indeed democracy. Shaffir, who called Netanyahu a coward – he’s certainly far less a coward – wanted to explain to her American colleagues the “complexities of the conflict,” that wretched expression that serves the cowardly Zionist left, whose members love to use it to obscure the loss of their way and the clear fact that nothing is complex about apartheid.

>> Read more: Israel presented Tlaib with a cruel dilemma: Her principles or her family | Analysis ■ Fierce backlash to Tlaib travel ban is a time bomb for the U.S.-Israel 'special relationship' | Analysis

No one thought that the situation in South Africa was complex but the white nationalists and their sympathizers. Neither should anyone around the world make a mistake and think this about South Africa’s successor. Black-white, occupier-occupied – it’s not complex at all.

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 35Credit: Haaretz

But in Israel, image is the be-all and end-all. The world, which sees Israel as a beacon of democracy, might now discover that it’s not. And so the ban on the entry of the two Democratic legislators will go down as a milestone in the struggle to uncover the truth, that same truth that Israelis are so afraid to look straight in the eye.

The cancellation of the visit should bring all honest Israelis face to face with a few fundamental questions. Do they oppose the occupation? If so, do they believe that its end will come from within Israeli society, which will awaken one morning and decide of its own volition that it no longer wants the occupation and is prepared to bear the burden of ending it?

If they believe this, are they brave enough to admit the necessary conclusion, that the end of the occupation will only come through outside pressure? After all, it’s the only thing that might push Israelis to ask themselves whether the price they’ll pay and the penalties they’ll incur will be worth it. The BDS movement is at the moment the most important agent of this pressure, so opponents of the occupation must support it.

Opponents of the occupation must also support Tlaib and Omar. These legislators may be the harbingers of the fond hope that a new generation of politicians will arise in the United States to upset the existing order in which Israel is allowed to do any harm it wants and Washington stands up for it.

These two courageous members of Congress, one from Minnesota and one from Michigan, have challenged the people in Israel who declare themselves against the occupation. Were these Israelis shocked by the entry ban because of damage to Israel’s image, or because of the representatives’ determination to work against Israel? Are they only declaring opposition to the occupation, or do they support activists like Tlaib and Omar and other BDS sympathizers?

Israel almost beat them. Happily, Tlaib came to her senses and didn’t fall into the trap. The shameful proposal to let her visit her grandmother is a manifestation of colonialism: depoliticizing the Palestinian issue, transforming it from a national matter into a humanitarian one, and then portraying the occupation as merciful.

From the expulsion of the refugees in 1948 to the blockade of Gaza, Israel has denied the Palestinians’ rights, just like it denied Tlaib’s right to visit her homeland and the right of any American lawmaker, whose country has invested so enormously in another country, to visit that country. Instead, Israel offers a little more fuel to Gaza and a visit to a grandmother in occupied Beit Ur al-Fauqa like a bone to a dog.

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