Key Democrats who have openly defended two anti-Semitic members of Congress are being taken to task for agreeing to appear at one of the largest annual gatherings of American Jews.
Several key Democrats – including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer – are slated to share the stage and speak alongside pro-Palestinian groups and anti-Semites at this month's annual "J Street National Conference." Included among the participants are the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas's advisor, Osama Qawasma.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) will also share their pro-Palestinian foreign policies at the conference in Washington, DC, October 26–29.
"Jayapal was one of 17 representatives to vote against a July resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives condemning the anti-Israel BDS movement, while Van Hollen was one of 23 senators in February to vote against the Strengthening America's Security in the Middle East Act, which, if enacted, would impose new sanctions on Syria, boost security cooperation with Israel and Jordan, and allow state and local governments the right to punish state or local contractors from engaging in boycotting Israel," Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) reported.
Ironically, J Street describes itself as "the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans" and an advocate for a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and "an independent, de-militarized state of Palestine with defined borders."
An anti-Israel bash?
Those top Democrats are joining recognized anti-Semitic groups and Palestinian activists who regularly condemn Israel for protecting itself from its hostile neighbors waging jihad against it from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"Additionally, Jewish Democratic Council of America Executive Director Halie Soifer, IfNotNow Founder Emily Meyer and Bashar Azzeh, a member of the PLO Central Council, are listed as speakers," JNS added. "IfNotNow has been accused of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, [and] according to its mission, the organization seeks to 'end American Jewish support for the occupation,' which advocates say is 'is a system of violence and separation by which Israel denies Palestinians freedom and dignity by depriving them of civil, political and economic rights.'"
IfNotNow has been lobbying leftists who are hoping to succeed President Donald Trump in the White House to take away Israel's God-given land and give it to the Palestinians.
"The group has been approaching Democratic presidential candidates as representatives of the Jewish community and asking them about ending the so-called 'occupation' of Judea and Samaria – the word 'occupation' has been used by anti-Israel groups to try to delegitimize Israel," JNS informed.
IfNotNow spokesperson Yohah Lieberman views all of Israel as being "occupied territory."
"We understand the Occupation as the military rule over Palestinians [in Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and Gaza]," Lieberman told JNS. "We also know that the discrimination and displacement inside Israel's 1948 borders are connected to its rule in those Occupied Territories. This system of violence deprives all Palestinians of civil, political and economic rights."
Dem speakers no friends of Israel
In recent months, Democratic leaders in the nation's capital made their contempt for Israel known when they defended two pro-Palestinian House members who planned on raising opposition against Israel on its own soil.
Pelosi slammed Israel's decision in August denying Muslim Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) entry into its nation, saying it was "beneath the dignity of the great State of Israel," and she called President Trump's call for Israel to deny the women entry "a sign of ignorance and disrespect and beneath the dignity of the office of the president," as reported by The Associated Press and published by the Times of Israel (TOI).
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the decision.
"Israel is open to all critics and any criticism, with one exception: The law in Israel that prohibits entry to people calling and advocating for boycotting the country, just like in other democracies that bar entry to those who they believe will do harm to their nation," the PM explained, according to an August 15 tweet by Israeli reporter Gili Cohen. "Several days ago, we received their trip itinerary, which clarified that they planned a visit whose sole purpose was to support boycotts and deny Israel's legitimacy."
Netanyahu stressed how both of the first-term Democratic lawmakers wouldn't even acknowledge the legitimacy of Israel's sovereignty or meet with elected officials.
"For example, they called their destination 'Palestine' and not 'Israel,' and unlike all Democratic and Republican members of Congress in the past, they did not seek any meeting with any Israeli official – whether government or opposition," he added.
But condemnation of Israel – also blasting it for keeping the anti-Semitic lawmakers out – came from Schumer, as well.
"Denying entry to members of the United States Congress is a sign of weakness, not strength," Schumer tweeted August 15. "It will only hurt the U.S.-Israel relationship and support for Israel in America."
PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi – whose organization is represented at this month's conference – also condemned Israel for denying the pro-Palestinian lawmakers entry.
"The Israeli decision to ban Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from visiting Palestine is an outrageous act of hostility against the American people and their representatives," Ashrawi chided Israel in August in a statement, according to AFP. "This is a dangerous precedent that defies all diplomatic norms and an assault on the Palestinian people's right to engage with the rest of the world."
But David Friedman, U.S. Ambassador to Israel, set the record straight about Israel's right to protect itself from declared enemies – just like any other nation does.
"The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions [BDS] movement against Israel is not free speech – rather, it is no less than economic warfare designed to delegitimize and ultimately destroy the Jewish State," Friedman argued in his August 15 tweet. "Israel properly has enacted laws to bar entry of BDS activists under the circumstances present here, and it has every right to protect its borders against those activists in the same manner as it would bar entrants with more conventional weapons."
Israeli authorities subsequently granted Tlaib permission to enter Israel – on the condition of not inciting opposition against Israel – so she could visit her aging Palestinian grandmother. She rejected the offer.