Because Tlaib and Omar cannot serve as witnesses, the responsibility falls even more heavily on us.
By Peter Beinart | Forward | Aug 15, 2019
[Netanyahu is] not a fool. He may have barred Omar and Tlaib partly because Donald Trump asked him to. He may have felt the stunt would appeal to right-wing voters in Israel’s upcoming elections. But he likely also understood that if Omar and Tlaib brought the American media with them to the West Bank, they might begin to puncture the cocoon that he and his American Jewish allies have worked so hard to build.
Most establishment American Jewish leaders think Israel’s decision to bar Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from visiting the West Bank was, in the words of The Democratic Majority for Israel, “unwise.”
Benjamin Netanyahu, the American Jewish Committee argued, should have realized that “visiting Israel is essential to gaining a better understanding of this… open, democratic society.”
AIPAC said “every member of Congress should be able to visit and experience our democratic ally Israel firsthand.”
Of course they think that. Most officials of mainstream American Jewish organizations have never been to the places Tlaib and Omar planned to go. They’ve never talked to Palestinians whose homes are about to be bulldozed because they lack the building permits that, as non-citizens under military rule, they can’t get. They’ve never heard Palestinian parents explain the terror they feel when Israeli soldiers come in the middle of the night to take their children to be interrogated, often for days, in the absence of a lawyer.
They’ve never stood in a Palestinian village that receives a few hours of water per day and seen swimming pools in the settlements nearby. They’ve never visited the village of Beit Ur al-Fauqa, home to Rashida Tlaib’s grandmother, where according to a 2015 report, local children waded through sewage channels to reach a high school enclosed by the separation barrier on three sides. American Jewish leaders think Netanyahu is a fool because they don’t realize how much he has to hide.