The Palestinian group behind Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib’s (D-MI) trip to Israel once promoted an accusation of blood libel, an antisemitic trope used to justify acts of violence and mistreatment against the Jewish people throughout history.
The anti-Israel group Miftah, led by BDS supporter Hanan Ashrawi, co-sponsored and organized the lawmakers’ trip to Israel.
The group has a history of making wildly inaccurate and extreme statements, from accusing Israel of committing “massacres” to claiming the prominence of “ethnic cleansing.” In 2013, it defended spreading antisemitic blood libel, which smears Jewish people, accusing them of using the blood of Christian children for baking unleavened bread for Passover (which is actually made only of flour and water). The bizarre allegation has been used throughout history to justify acts of violence against the Jewish people.
Miftah was forced to apologize after promoting the antisemitic rumor in a 2013 article, criticizing the Obama administration for holding a Passover Seder in the White House.
“Does Obama in fact know the relationship, for example, between ‘Passover’ and ‘Christian blood’..?! Or ‘Passover’ and ‘Jewish blood rituals?!’” the article, written by Nawaf Al Zaru read.
“Much of the chatter and gossip about historical Jewish blood rituals in Europe are real and not fake as they claim; the Jews used the blood of Christians in the Jewish Passover,” the article continued.
The organization originally refused to apologize, calling criticisms “a smear campaign.” Nevertheless, it eventually conceded and claimed that the offensive piece was “accidentally and incorrectly published by a junior staff member.”
Statement per the Times of Israel:
It has become clear to us after investigating this incident that the article was accidentally and incorrectly published by a junior staff member. The said staffer has been reprimanded and all our staff has been informed as to the disgusting and repulsive phenomena of blood libel or accusation, including its use against Jews. Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, as founder, has nothing to do with the day to day management at Miftah and was no way involved in this incident.
The group’s roots go far beyond spreading baseless antisemitic conspiracy theories.
As Breitbart News reported:
Ashrawi was a political leader of the violent First Palestinian Intifada and served as deputy to late PLO leader and arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat. She is known for espousing anti-Israel conspiracy theories and attempting to justify Palestinian “resistance” against the Jewish state.
In a 2001 speech to the World Conference Against Racism, Ashrawi referred to the creation of Israel as a “Nakba” or “catastrophe.”
At the height of the deadly Palestinian intifada campaign of suicide bombings and shootings, Ashrawi wrote the following in October 2001 of the carnage: “I see it as an expression of the will to resist, of the spirit of a people that will not succumb to coercion and subjugation. … Popular protests and acts of resistance — political, human resistance — are necessary to demonstrate the people’s will.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed in a statement Thursday that Tlaib and Omar’s planned trip, co-sponsored by Miftah, centered around delegitimizing Israel.
“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,” he stated.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) admitted in a series of tweets Friday that she planned to “witness firsthand what is happening on the ground in Palestine” and called on the U.S. to use aid as leverage against Israel:
Denying visits to duly elected Members of Congress is not consistent with being either an ally or a democracy. We should be leveraging that aid to stop the settlements and ensure full rights for Palestinians.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) August 16, 2019