Nothing says “I support free speech” like refusing to listen to what someone has to say, covering your ears and condemning him before he’s uttered a syllable. Ilhan Omar has in her characteristically blustering way announced that “there is no way in hell” that she will sit still to listen to Israeli President Isaac Herzog, a well-known moderate, address a joint session of Congress on July 19. She has now been joined by three other members of The Squad – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman, and Cori Bush – who have announced that they will go and do likewise. And any moment now, we can expect other members of The Squad, including Ilhan’s fellow Muslim and BFF Rashida Tlaib, as well as Betty McCollum, to announce that they, too, will join the boycott. By the time the dust has settled, perhaps as many as ten members of Congress, out of a total of 535 (100 Senators, 435 Representatives) will refuse to listen to President Herzog. More on this latest demonstration by The Squad of its deep anti-Israel animus can be found here: “More ‘Squad’ Democrats join Omar-led boycott of Herzog congressional address,” by Jacob Magid, Times of Israel, July 14, 2023:
Three US lawmakers said they planned to boycott Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s speech to a joint session of Congress next week, joining a colleague who scoffed that there was “no way in hell” she would attend.
Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman and Cori Bush‘s offices each confirmed that they would not be attending the July 19 speech, backing Rep. Ilhan Omar, who was the first to make such a decision on Wednesday.
All four lawmakers are part of the so-called Squad of progressive Democrats and additional members of the eight-member group are expected to follow suit.
The four other members of The Squad are Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Summer Lee of Pennsylvania, and Greg Casar of Texas. Tlaib will certainly join the boycott. Pressley, however, has recently been sending mixed signals on her view of Israel, voting against funding the Iron Dome project, but more recently condemning the Mapping Project of pro-Palestinian activists, a website that claims to show the ties between various Massachusetts institutions and “support for the colonization of Palestine.” Summer Lee, who narrowly won the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional district, thereby ensuring her election to Congress, may worry about a primary challenge in 2024 and decide to mute her anti-Israel image by attending Herzog’s speech. Greg Casar, though on domestic issues he has agreed with The Squad, has supported “U.S. aid for Israel’s self-defense” and opposes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. It is unlikely that he will boycott Herzog’s speech.
Few others are expected to blackball Herzog, whose figurehead role and ties to Israel’s peace camp make him a far less divisive figure than many other Israeli leaders, such as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Bowman was the only lawmaker of the three latest additions to the list who offered comment on his decision, telling the right-wing newspaper Epoch Times that “I don’t think Israel has gone far enough in protecting and uplifting Palestinian rights and Palestinian lives.”…
Israel supplies the Palestinians, both in Gaza and the West Bank, with electricity and water. It also provides them with a total of 125,000 work permits (20,000 for Gaza, 100,000 for the West Bank), so that Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank can work in Israel and earn salaries three to ten times larger – depending on the job — than what they would earn at home. It is not Israel that has the responsibility for “protecting and uplifting Palestinian rights,” but rather, Hamas in Gaza and the PA in Judea and Samaria, both of which are cruel despotisms that cannot be dislodged democratically from power.
Perhaps Jamaal Bowman is thinking not of the Palestinians, but of the Israeli Arabs. He needn’t worry about their “rights.” They have the same rights as Israeli Jews. Arabs serve in the Knesset, sit on the Supreme Court, go abroad as ambassadors. The chairman of Israel’s largest bank, Bank Leumi, is an Arab. Jews and Arabs work in the same offices and factories, play on the same sports teams and in the same orchestras, attend the same universities and professional schools, and go into business together, in everything from restaurants to high tech start-ups. The only difference in their treatment is that Jews must, while Israeli Arabs may, serve in the military. Can Jamaal Bowman really not know any of this?
In her post on Wednesday [July 12], Omar wrote, “There is no way in hell I am attending.”“We should not be inviting the president of Israel — a government who under its current prime minister barred the first two Muslim women elected to Congress from visiting the country — to give a joint address to Congress,” Omar tweeted in all caps, noting that a 2019 ban had meant fellow Muslim congresswoman Rashida Tlaib was unable to visit her grandmother who lives in the West Bank….
Surely Omar is well aware that Herzog is very different in his outlook than Netanyahu, whom he opposes on a number of issues, including judicial reform, and that he had nothing to do with the ban on Omar and Tlaib entering Israel. But she’s determined not to make such distinctions; collective punishment of Israelis is her stock in trade.
Ilhan Omar is against all Israeli Jews, of all political persuasions, save possibly for the farthest left members of the Meretz Party, who are eager to help the Palestinians squeeze Israel back within the indefensible 1949 armistice lines in order to obtain a specious “peace.”
At the same time, the hardline nature of the current coalition is sure to make it easier for other progressive lawmakers to follow Omar’s lead.
Why are these people called “progressive”? There is nothing “progressive” — a word with positive connotations – about them. Are they not better identified as “fascistic” in their methods? Do you doubt that they would silence, if they could, all pro-Israel voices, with a vindictive thud reminiscent of Mussolini’s Black Shirts permanently silencing – with a bullet – Giacomo Matteotti?
Even if every one of those eight members of the Squad decided to stay away from Herzog’s speech, and even if two more Congressmen were to join them, that would mean a total of ten members of Congress, out of a total of 535, would have boycotted Herzog’s speech. That’s less than 2%. Nothing for Ilhan Omar (D-Mogadishu) or Rashida Tlaib (D-Ramallah) to write home about.