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August 21, 2019 8:56 am

The Tlaib/Omar Controversy Reveals the True Nature of BDS

avatar by Richard Millett

Opinion

US Reps Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) hold a news conference after Democrats in the US Congress moved to formally condemn President Donald Trump’s attacks on the four minority congresswomen. Photo: Reuters/Erin Scott.

As expected, the UK paper The Guardian published two full blown rants over the weekend concerning Israel’s refusal to allow US Congresswomen Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) to enter Israel due to their public support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The Guardian’s editorial called barring the Congresswomen’s entry “a bad day for Israel, and a worse one for the US,” while writer Emma Goldberg called it a ploy “to quiet anti-occupation activism.”

So far, so Guardian.

However, a piece by Oliver Holmes explaining why Tlaib had rejected Israel’s humanitarian offer to visit her grandmother had a moment of unexpected clarity when Holmes writes:

The BDS movement seeks to end the Israeli occupation in the Palestinian territories and discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel, who account for almost a fifth of the population. It also demands that Israel allow several million Palestinian refugees and their families to return to their homes.

Israel argues the movement is antisemitic and seeks to dismantle Israel as a Jewish state by reducing its Jewish majority.

It’s rare to see Israel’s argument laid out in any news article, let alone in The Guardian. Holmes shows that Israel’s refusal to allow entry to Tlaib and Omar isn’t simply “to quiet anti-occupation activism.”

While it is valid for Tlaib and Omar to discuss how to end the so-called “occupation,” and how to end any discrimination in Israel, not just that related to Israeli-Arabs, the BDS movement’s demand that “Israel allow several million Palestinian refugees and their families to return to their homes” is the reason why Israelis and Diaspora Jews should feel reassured that Tlaib and Omar have been barred entry to Israel.

This so-called Palestinian right of return would “dismantle Israel as a Jewish state” by reducing Jews to a minority in Israel. (Add to this the fact that most Palestinians have never lived in Israel, and therefore have no “right of return” anyway.)

As you can see from the BDS website below, the movement would like 7.25 million Palestinians to enter Israel:

This demand speaks volumes about the BDS movement’s real concern. It isn’t a concern for Palestinians, because — given that Israelis would resist removal of their Jewish national self-determination — it would cause bloodshed on both sides.

At its core, the BDS movement seeks the annihilation of Israel, so there really is nothing for Israel to discuss with Tlaib and Omar. The Guardian should point this out to its readers more emphatically so they get the full picture.

Richard Millett is a freelance journalist, blogger and non-practising solicitor with a Masters in Middle East politics from SOAS. A version of this article was originally published at UK Media Watch.

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