The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), the oldest pro-Israel group in the U.S., released a comprehensive takedown of the press conference Monday by Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MN), who were denied permission to enter Israel last week en route to a tour that was to be led by a radical Palestinian organization.
Israel turned Omar and Tlaib away because they support the anti-Israel “boycott, divestment, sanctions” (BDS) movement, which aims to choke Israel economically. The Israeli government granted Tlaib a humanitarian visa to visit her grandmother in a Palestinian village, but Tlaib canceled her trip because a condition of her visit was that she not advocate for a boycott of Israel.
Omar and Tlaib railed against Israel — without mentioning Palestinian terror — and called on a group of anti-Israel activists to bolster their claims. In response, the ZOA released a complete breakdown of all the major false claims in the press conference, reprinted below in full:
Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein, ZOA Chairman Mark Levenson, Esq., and ZOA Director of Special Projects, Liz Berney, Esq. released the following statement, refuting and debunking antisemitic, Israelophobic Congress members Ilhan Omar’s and Rashida Tlaib’s egregious lies in their press conference this afternoon:
Tlaib/Omar repeatedly falsely claimed that Israel occupies “Palestinian land” and demanded an “end to occupation” – their Orwellian method of calling for Israel’s destruction: In fact, Israel is not an “occupier” because Israel, Judea/Samaria (a/k/a the West Bank) and Jerusalem are all lands designated for the Jewish homeland, both historically and under binding international law. There has never been a state of “Palestine,” ever. The only way one can be an “occupier” is to occupy another nation’s sovereign land. Israel is not, and cannot be an “occupier” of her own land. Additionally, the Palestinians rejected a state 4 times in the last 19 years on virtually all the disputed lands—because it required them accepting Israel as a Jewish State and agreeing to no further claims.
Moreover, the Jewish people are the indigenous people of Israel, Judea/Samaria and Jerusalem. The word “Jew” comes from “Judea” – where the Jewish people lived for over 3,000 years. The Jewish kingdoms existed for hundreds of years. There was always a Jewish presence in Israel. Jerusalem is the Jewish people’s holiest city and site of the first and second Jewish Temples – the holiest Jewish site. Jewish holy books mention Jerusalem 700 times. The Koran never mentions Jerusalem. Throughout the millennia, Jews always pray for Jerusalem and pray facing Jerusalem. Muslims pray facing Mecca, and have no prayers for Jerusalem.
By contrast, Arab “Palestinians” are not indigenous to Israel. Most immigrated to Israel from Arab nations (Egypt, Syria, etc.) and from northern Africa (Algeria, etc.) after waves of Jewish communities started rebuilding Israel in the mid-to-late 1800s through mid-1900s. “Palestinian” Arab last names reveal their origin in Egypt, North Africa and elsewhere.
International legally binding treaties, including the San Remo Resolution, the Anglo- American Treaty (a U.S. treaty obligation), Feisal-Weitzman Treaty, and League of Nations Mandate to Britain, designated Israel, Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria for the Jewish homeland. Israel is not an “occupier” because these areas are no other nation’s sovereign land.
Further, despite the Jewish people’s long history in and entitlement to Gaza and all of Judea/Samaria, Israel withdrew from every inch of Gaza and over 40% of Judea/Samaria. Today, 98% of Palestinian-Arabs in Judea/Samaria are ruled by their own terrorist regime – the Palestinian Authority (PA), and have their own parliament, schools, media and institutions. Arabs in Gaza are ruled by the terrorist group Hamas.
Tlaib/Omar misleadingly implied they were excluded from the bipartisan Congressional trip to Israel a few weeks ago, and misleadingly failed to mention that Tlaib rejected the humanitarian visit to her grandmother, approved by Israel, that Tlaib requested: In fact, Omar and Tlaib were invited to the bipartisan trip to Israel, attended by 70 of their colleagues, but refused to attend. Instead, Tlaib/Omar demanded an anti-Israel trip to non-existent “Palestine,” which did not include meetings with Israeli officials, to promote hatred and boycotts against Israel. And despite the fact that Israel approved Tlaib’s request for a humanitarian visit to her grandmother, Tlaib rejected the very trip opportunity that she requested. In other words, Tlaib/Omar were given plenty of opportunities to see the “reality on the ground” – but instead chose to propagandize against Israel and promote anti-Israel boycotts and Israel’s destruction.
Tlaib/Omar falsely claimed that they were prevented from doing their jobs: In fact, neither Tlaib nor Omar is on the Middle East subcommittee, and thus have no direct role regarding these issues. Tlaib and Omar’s real job is to serve their Congressional districts in Minnesota and Missouri, instead of abusing their positions to bash and spread falsehoods about Jews and Israel. Further, as ZOA has previously explained, Omar and Tlaib should be removed from their committee assignments due to their repeated despicable expressions of Jew-hatred, Holocaust revisionism and bias, and associations with and funding by terror and leading anti-Israel BDS promoters.
Tlaib/Omar falsely and outrageously compared Israel to apartheid South Africa – while calling for discrimination against Jews: Israel has absolutely no comparison to apartheid South Africa. Israeli-Arabs are full Israeli citizens, Supreme Court judges, and members of the Israeli Knesset (parliament). Israeli Arabs vote in Israel’s elections, serve side-by-side with Jews in every occupation, etc. That’s the opposite of “apartheid.”
Notably, Tlaib/Omar demanded eliminating Jewish homes (so-called “settlement expansion”). Tlaib/Omar’s demand is the real apartheid and anti-Jewish discrimination.
Tlaib/Omar falsely called checkpoints and security checks “dehumanizing” “harassment” of Palestinians, when the sole purpose of these is to stop Palestinian-Arab terror attacks: Checkpoints are a part of life throughout the world, to stop terror. Virtually every American airport and major office building has security checks. Similarly, Israel’s checkpoints exist solely to stop Palestinian-Arab terror attacks. Since the Intifadas began, over 12,000 innocent Israelis and many Americans were murdered or maimed by Palestinian-Arab terrorists who blew up pizza parlors, Jewish weddings and Passover Seders, went on stabbing rampages, plowed trucks and cars into Israelis, shot Israelis including pregnant Jewish women waiting at bus stops, and more.
The real “dehumanization” is the Palestinian Authority’s and Hamas’ demonization of Jews and incitement and payments to terrorists to murder Jews and Americans.
Tlaib/Omar threatened Israel with more boycotts, cutting off aid, etc: Tlaib/Omar demanded that everyone should stop visiting America’s greatest ally Israel, the only human tights loving democracy in the Mideast, and threatened aid cut-offs to Israel. They ignored the fact that U.S. aid benefits the U.S. with technology, security assistance, stopping terror attacks around the world, and more. Notably, long before Tlaib/Omar’s proposed visit, they co-sponsored an anti-Israel pro-BDS House resolution – and absurdly and outrageously likened boycotts against Israel to boycotts against Nazis.
Tlaib falsely claimed that Trump is pitting Jews and Muslims against one another, when in fact radical Jew-haters Tlaib/Omar are creating the division. ZOA has documented Tlaib’s and Omar’s repeated antisemitic anti-Israel tweets, statements, proposed legislation, and terrorist affiliations.
Tlaib/Omar misrepresented their itinerary and misleadingly tried to whitewash their terror-connected trip sponsor: Tlaib/Omar falsely claimed that their itinerary included items such as Knesset member meetings that were not in fact on their itinerary. Tlaib/Omar also misleadingly omitted their trip sponsor Miftah’s terror connections and Miftah’s blood libels against the Jewish people. Miftah even spread the false medieval libel that Jews bake matzah with Christian children’s blood.
Tlaib/Omar instead tried to whitewash Miftah’s abominable record by asserting that Miftah sponsored a previous Congressional trip. Tlaib/Omar neglected to mention that the previous Miftah trip including meetings with a PFLP terrorist. The Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs “Terrorists in Suits” report, which documented the ties between BDS and terror groups, revealed that Shawan Jabarin was a PFLP operative. NGO Monitor similarly reported about the previous Miftah trip:
“In 2016, MIFTAH sponsored a trip for five US Congressmen to visit east Jerusalem and Ramallah. According to the trip’s itinerary, the Congressmen met with Shawan Jabarin, who has alleged ties to the PFLP terrorist organization and as such has been denied exit visas by Israel and Jordan. Following the trip, one of the congressmen, Hank Johnson, made comparisons between Israeli settlers and termites. After significant criticism, Johnson apologized for his “poor choice of words.”
Tlaib/Omar also invoked falsehood-purveying anti-Israel NGOs: Omar/Tlaib also asserted that they planned to meet with former IDF soldiers to hear about various anti-Israel allegations. This was a reference to notorious anti-Israel NGOs, such as B’tselem (also see NGO Monitor report), which have a long history of disseminating falsehoods against Israel and the IDF. This further demonstrates that the sole purpose of Tlaib/Omar’s visit was to demonize Israel with one falsehood after another. This was never intended to be a legitimate fact finding trip by these two Israelophobic, bigoted, hateful members of Congress, Tlaib and Omar.
ZOA also included a link to essential facts about Israel, the Palestinians, and the conflict.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.