Ilhan Omar lays out Israel’s crimes

Soldiers seen behind barbed wire and walls with closed shops behind

Israeli occupation forces and settlers in Hebron’s Shuhada Street in February. Israel has closed the once busy market street to Palestinians since 1994. Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib had planned to visit the occupied West Bank city during a congressional visit banned by Israel this week.

Wisam Hashlamoun APA images

In a series of Tweets on Friday remarkable for their clarity and honesty, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has laid out Israel’s crimes and abuses of Palestinians.

On Thursday, Israel confirmed that it would bar Omar and fellow Democratic lawmaker Rashida Tlaib from traveling on a congressional delegation to Israel and the occupied West Bank.

The information Omar provides will not be new to many readers of this publication. But it is almost unheard of for a member of the United States Congress to use their platform to make it available to an even wider audience.

In an attempt to prove to a mostly shielded American audience the facts of the Israeli occupation, Omar often uses Israeli sources to document Israeli abuses and violations of human rights and international law.

Such sources can be valuable, but one hopes her exceptional courage will also mean she can use more Palestinian sources to document what their occupiers do to them.

Her recommendation that Twitter users follow the human rights group Al-Haq is an excellent start.

“Let’s be clear: the goal of our trip was to witness firsthand what is happening on the ground in Palestine and hear from stakeholders – our job as members of Congress,” Omar begins her series of tweets.

“But since we were unable to fulfill our role as legislators, I am sharing what we would have seen.”

“As many of my colleagues have stated in the last 24 hours, we give Israel more than $3 billion in aid every year,” Omar states. “This is predicated on their being an important ally in the region, and the ‘only democracy’ in the Middle East.”

“Denying visits to duly elected members of Congress is not consistent with being either an ally or a democracy,” she adds. “We should be leveraging that aid to stop the settlements and ensure full rights for Palestinians.”

“The occupation is real,” Omar concludes. “Barring members of Congress from seeing it does not make it go away. We must end it – together.”

Here are all of Omar’s tweets:

Comments

picture

We have Ilhan to thank for exposing what is happening on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza, to the American people .Many just do not know because the bought and controlled MSM simply whitewashes the reality , superimposing zionist platitudes and lies.We finally have a voice that the media cannot silence .Thank you so much.

picture

Omar references Peter Beinart's column, which I agree is excellent and BTW, if he still doesn't support BDS - he will...he will. But although he's certainly right that A motive for banning the congresswomen is to hide the occupation, I think it might also be an echo of all the anti-BDS legislation we're seeing on a global level. Despite our mainstream media's amazing agility in tiptoeing around the issue.
Behind Bibi, behind Trump, behind Gannon and all the more acceptable manifestations of global capitalist power, there are efforts to quash popular movements that are trying to overcome systems that are failing them and their planet. BDS is one such movement and a critical one, given that it's aimed at global capital's model of nascent fascist nationalism's domination of what they like to call "Globalism" and we grew up understanding was a system of international law, treaties and the like, intended to keep the peace.
Trouble is, that to keep the peace, there must be just remedies for problems that are part and parcel of the cult of free marketeering or BUCKaneering, if you will.
I think Trump's outrageous wielding of the levers of power is emboldening many into going perhaps a bit too far and banning these two may have been.
But I wouldn't count on it and I wouldn't leave resistance to it solely up to the Democratic Party either.
But if more resistance to it can't manifest than we saw after the blood-sacrifice of Jamal Khashoggi, then I just don't know what it will take.

picture

Trump is going to run not against the eventual Democratic nominee so much as against Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. The Republicans think they've got the ideal racial enemy against which to secure another term for Trump and victory for their Congressional candidates. To that end, the White House called in a favor from Netanyahu to ban the delegation from crossing into Israeli held territory. Anyone who remembers the "Willie Horton" strategy that helped G.W. Bush defeat Michael Dukakis should recognise this tactic from their playbook. Far from ignoring a few leftist, pro-Palestinian members of Congress, the Republicans mean to cry havoc and ring alarms that the U.S. faces a takeover at the hands of these women and their horde of antisemitic followers.

But this time they're playing a dangerous game, as many in the Israel lobby recognise. The tide is turning in U.S. public opinion, and focusing on Palestine for the first time as a key issue in a Presidential election may prove a boon to the cause of justice and equality there. I expect Trump to be re-elected, thanks to the machinations of the Democratic Party leadership and the donor class in blocking any progressive turn. But in the process, Palestine may finally achieve the necessary profile in American politics to bring about the change we all strive for. Even as Israel appears at the zenith of its military and economic influence, power is slipping away as a political force. And the courageous stand of Rashida Tlaib on this interrupted journey will be remembered as a marker along the way.

picture

Yes, let's hope it is a bad miscalculation. Given the rise in sympathy for Palestine among Democrats, making Israel/Palestine a central issue may do Trump more harm than good. On that basis, maybe your calculation that he'll win isn't so secure. I agree about the machinations of the higher echelons of the Democratic Party (Clinton as the candidate in 2016 was a dreadful mistake) and the power of money, but his core isn't enough and if the matter can be made one of fundamental justice and support for democracy, it might peel off enough votes to stop him. Democracy has to be a universal value. It's manipulated and in the mouth of Trump is a mere excuse. Yet for most Democrats it probably has enough of that universalist tenor for them to recognise Palestinians are unjustly treated. Omar and Tlaib are elected representatives. That they hold their seats is in itself a victory. That the President treats them with contempt is a contempt for democracy. Trump lacks the subtlety to know how to attack his opponents without being contemptuous. He may find what he's trying backfires badly.
To get the change we want, though, don't we have to get rid of Trump? Don't we have to ensure that a Democrat with a bit of courage about the issue is elected? When Pelosi speaks to AIPAC and opposes BDS, don't we have to recognise there is still a big bipartisan hangover? What's happening in the UK is panic over the possible election of Corbyn, whose position is moderate. There is a McCarthyite attack on anyone in the Labour Party who dares to say Netanyahu is not right about everything. Wouldn't something worse arise in the US? What do we do? In my view only a huge grassroots movement can bring the change. It exists in Britain. Big majorities agree the Palestinians are badly treated. There may be confusion about the 2-State chimera, but there is strong support for international law. Most Labour voters don't believe Labour is antisemitic. Can that be replicated in the US?

picture

Whilst Trump repeats the hate card, Netanyahu plays the terrorist card, both of whom are the leaders of countries which are two of the biggest hate-mongering purveyors of terrorism on the planet. But for the psychopaths.....

picture

Our Congress is itself responsible for the humiliation of members of Congress, who are denied entry into Israel.

Three years ago Congress passed an extraordinary exception to visa requirements for Israeli, who wish to enter the United States.

The US has visa-exception arrangements with several countries but this privilege is typically, reciprocal.

The visa exception arrangement Congress quietly made to accommodate Israelis is NOT RECIPROCAL for U.S. citizens to enter Israel.

When is our Congress going to stop sucking up to arrogant, racist land thieves who kill children, parrnts, journalists, ambulance drivers and nurses while bragging to each other how easily they can "move" our government?

When will our disgust rise to the level of ENOUGH!

picture

Thanks to M. Abunimah and especially to Ms Omar from someone who doesn't use Twitter. Thanks too to the Israeli government for a decision that could very well backfire. Forbidding something makes people stand up and notice. Refusing, deporting, building walls, using emotionally charged language, which I notice is absent from Ms Omar's tweets - these methods are not a formula for success.

picture

So very well said Carol .They do end up by exposing what they are really made of,don't they.And yes thanks to the electronic intifada for the medium of expression it provides us.

Add new comment

Ali Abunimah

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.