Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan had an interesting week, even by the busy standards of Rashida Tlaib. It began with her being barred from Israel. It ended with the World Jewish Congress saying — pretty accurately — she was using Hitlerian tactics.
First, Israel denied her permission Thursday to enter Israel as part of a trip which, for all intents and purposes, was to lend support to a boycott of the Jewish state.
The Israelis then offered her a humanitarian visa to see her family in the West Bank, which she declined. This led to a Twitter fight involving Donald Trump, which isn’t exactly a novelty but still warranted mentioning.
Then, Bill Maher — an atheist who’s ethnically Jewish and identifies as “half-Jewish” — called out the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement on his Friday show. Maher, a smarmy vulgarian who perpetually projects the belief he alone is possessed of the truth, occasionally stumbles upon it in his own asterisk-pocked way.
“BDS is a bulls— purity test by people who want to appear ‘woke’ but actually slept through history class,” Maher said, according to the Jerusalem Post.
“I think it’s very shallow thinking that the Jews in Israel are mostly white and Palestinians are mostly brown, so they must be innocent and correct and the Jews must be wrong,” Maher continued.
“As if the occupation came right out of the blue, that this ‘completely peaceful people’ found themselves occupied. Forget about the intifadas and the suicide bombings and the rockets and how many wars.”
He then noted the American media isn’t terribly fond of quoting the founder of the BDS movement, Marwan Barghouti, who said: “no Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, would ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.”
“Congresswoman Omar has said things like, ‘It’s all about the Benjamins,’ ‘Israel has hypnotized the world,’ ‘May Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel,’” Maher said about the woman who would have been Tlaib’s bunkmate on the Israel tour, Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar.
“She apologized for it, but it’s out there: ‘Jews control the world, control the money,'” Maher said. “I can see why they don’t get a hero’s welcome.”
So, having been denied entry to Israel for supporting an anti-Semitic movement that wants to boycott interests to do with the Jewish state, Tlaib — who apparently has no one in her orbit with the sense and/or courage to inform her the optics of this would be atomically bad — decided to call for a boycott of an ethnically Jewish comedian who criticized BDS.
“Maybe folks should boycott his show,” she tweeted Saturday. “I am tired of folks discrediting a form of speech that is centered on equality and freedom. This is exactly how they tried to discredit & stop the boycott to stand up against the apartheid in S. Africa. It didn’t work then and it won’t now.”
Maybe folks should boycott his show.
I am tired of folks discrediting a form of speech that is centered on equality and freedom. This is exactly how they tried to discredit & stop the boycott to stand up against the apartheid in S. Africa. It didn’t work then and it won’t now. https://t.co/Oa49ZVfrVN
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) August 17, 2019
A good look. While I’m generally not for invocations of Hitler in an environment where even enforcing immigration law can be compared to the policies of the NSDAP, it’s hard to argue that the World Jewish Congress had a point when it issued a rejoinder to her boycott.
“Serious questions need to be asked about Tlaib’s motivation in supporting the extremist BDS Movement, which is allied with terrorists and is not shy about its ultimate aim of destroying Israel,” World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said in a statement Sunday, according to the Washington Examiner.
“The WJC fully supports the constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech and has borne witness to the historic horrors associated with boycotts and the suppression of free speech,” he continued.
“Adolf Hitler infamously boycotted Jewish-owned businesses and worked to ban those in the entertainment and media industries who were critical of the Nazi party. After annexing Austria in 1938, Hitler quickly targeted for censure the Kabarett satirical reviews renowned for their expression of independent thought.
“We Jews know what boycotts can lead to. We find it concerning that a member of the U.S. Congress would lobby for BDS and so easily suggest that Maher’s show should be boycotted simply because he expressed an opinion with which she disagrees.”
Of course, there’s a dark irony in the idea that Tlaib spent Saturday saying how Maher ought to be boycotted for his opinions about BDS when she had been loudly excoriating the Israelis for refusing to let her in their country so that she could loudly declaim her opinion that their state should be boycotted out of existence — something that can and will get you excluded from most countries in the world.
It’s one of the political curiosities of 2019 that we most often hear the label of “Nazi” placed on the Trump administration or the Republican Party when the Democrats are the ones who countenance anti-Semitism in their own ranks.
It wasn’t too long ago that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the nominal leader of the Democratic Party, told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee “[w]e must also [be] vigilant against bigoted or dangerous ideologies masquerading as policy and that includes BDS.” There are now plenty of Democrats willing to defend the right of two congresswomen to go to Israel to support BDS.
No, the Democrats aren’t Nazis or Hitlerian. I wouldn’t even be willing to use that label on Tlaib. That said, there’s a very direct parallel between what she’s calling for and what Hitler actually did to entertainers who dared question his policies. It doesn’t help that the policy Tlaib is supporting is blatantly anti-Semitic.
When the World Jewish Congress is the organization willing to use the parallel, perhaps we ought to give it some serious thought.
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