If I were Israel’s Prime Minister, I’d have let repugnant US Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib come to Israel, despite their hateful agenda and itinerary that would have been an unabashed Anti-Israel Propaganda Tour. Israel is a strong country, vibrant democracy, and can stand up to the debate. There would have been no problem calling them out and challenging their anti-Semitic and anti-Israel lies at their every interview, comment, and tweet. We not only missed that opportunity, but we put the ball in their court to play a one-sided game of bash Israel. I’d say, “Game On.”
But I wouldn’t have left it at that. I would have had Omar and Tlaib shadowed at every turn. Not as in the Soviet KGB that I was followed by in the 80s. I’d have put together an elite team of the best minds and spokespeople in any language to trail them. I’d have prepared the talking points before and known who they were meeting with. I’d anticipate a range of issues that would come up during or as a result of each meeting, admittedly all just different takes on the overall bashing of Israel that they embody and do with no shame.
I’d have livestreamed our “rebuttal” and posted the best of these relentlessly, and aggressively anticipated their lies with a never-ending volley of facts that challenge and undermine their every anti-Israel thought. I’d have followed them to the gates of Ramallah and Bethlehem and talked about how it’s illegal and unsafe for Israelis to go there. I’d have made it clear that Jews are unwelcome today as they would be in a Palestinian state that would be judenrein. I’d have interviewed terror victims to show how despite the devastation of Palestinian Arab terror over decades, Israel is strong and thrives. I’d have interviewed native “Palestinians,” Jews who were born in the Land of Israel before 1948, those the British termed Palestinian to undermine their very fake historical narrative.
I’d have followed them through Jerusalem and underscored that its only since Israel’s unification of the city do people of every faith have the right to worship at their holy sites. Almost. I’d have made it clear that despite the historic, biblical, and religious significance to Jews and Christians alone, that Jews and Christians are not able to pray on the Temple Mount.
I’d have highlighted how in the thriving democracy that Israel is, Arab women have the right to wear a hijab as Omar does, or not to do so as Tlaib does, in contrast to how women are treated in our neighboring Islamic theocracies. I’d have celebrated how Israeli Arab women serve in our Knesset, own and manage businesses, attend the finest universities, can attain any career to which they aspire. They even vote and drive and can go out of their homes unaccompanied which is a normal western thought but heresy in many Islamic countries, even those from which these Congresswomen’s families immigrated. In fact, just for behaving the way they do in much of the Arab world, these women could have been subject to “honor killings.”
Yes, I’d have let them in, despite seeing their itinerary and not one meeting with a single official Israeli leader. They were not coming to visit Israel of course, they were visiting “Palestine” which turns on its head the argument that as members of Congress, they had some inherent right to see and check up on how US aid for Israel was being used. It would not have taken much to uncover lie after lie and the right army of spokespeople of every ethnicity and in multiple languages would have challenged them, and highlighted Israel’s just case.
I’d have used their meetings with one anti-Israel NGO and Palestinian Authority leader after another to shine the spotlight on their existing to delegitimize and even destroy Israel.
I’d have followed them into the kosher Moroccan restaurant and spoken about 750,000 Jewish refugees in the aftermath of Israel’s independence who resettled in their ancestral home and are an active part of the mosaic that has build our country. I’d have juxtaposed this to the fact that throughout the Arab world, the “Palestinians” are second class and not even able to attain citizenship or be settled in proper housing.
They would have scored some points for sure. Those prone to listen to them and their hate and use that to fuel their own hate could not have been prevented. But Israel would have stood strong and won in the big picture because we are a thriving democracy and our cause is righteous.
Why was the decision made to ban them?
Every country has the right to allow anyone to enter or not and all countries do and exercise that right. Its been suggested, to the disgust of many on the left in particular, that Israel caved to President Trump’s pressure to ban the Congresswomen. That’s unproven at best. Even CNN discredited its own report suggesting this by noting that the decision to ban them was made within an hour of Trump’s tweet. I don’t know all the reasons why this decision was made but I am sure it was not as a result of Trump’s tweet.
Those who blame Trump and therefore show anger and distain for the decision, do so blindly. Of course, Israel in general and Prime Minister Netanyahu in specific would consider Trump’s wishes, but they disregard the fact that in a month Israelis go to the polls, and there are some 40 political parties vying for their vote. Netanyahu is in a heated race to be reelected despite personal legal challenges, and is surely doing everything to stay in power. Even if Trump twisted his arm, Netanyahu would have made it clear that he needs to do what’s good for Israel which is for him to stay in power. There are many other considerations but it’s naïve and disingenuous to think that Trump’s personal interest was the deciding factor.
The decision to ban Omar and Tlaib was not made in a vacuum and not due to only one factor. It could have been done differently, and it could have been done the same but better. Sure, be disappointed by the outcome, and by the very fact that two democratic Congresswomen are so repugnant that even Israel as the thriving democracy won’t let them in. But let’s not use the ban itself as Omar and Tlaib have to bash or be disgusted by Israel for exercising a right that any country has. Doing so plays exactly into their play book of holding Israel to a different standard than anyone else.
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Jonathan Feldstein was born and educated in the U.S. and immigrated to Israel in 2004. He is married and the father of six and became a grandfather in 2018. Throughout his life and career, he has been blessed by the calling to fellowship with Christian supporters of Israel and serve as a bridge between Jews and Christians. He shares insights and experiences of living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel, writing for prominent Christian and conservative web sites and appearing on many Christian TV and radio programs. He is the president of Run for Zion and the Genesis 123 Foundation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and via www.runforzion.com.