Fresh off a week of stoking fires with Israel, Rep. Rashida Tlaib just suggested a boycott of Bill Maher’s show might be in order after the HBO comedian dared to call out the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement she supports a “bull— purity test.”
The World Jewish Congress hit back and called Tlaib’s boycott HBO suggestion “deeply disturbing.” And several Democrats in Congress, apparently backing Tlaib’s whole BDS view of Israel, started mulling the idea of censuring Ron Dermer and David Friedman, Israel’s ambassador to Washington and America’s ambassador to the Jewish state, respectively, for their roles in barring BDS-supporting Tlaib from entering Israel.
It’s been a busy few days for Tlaib.
She’s certainly been whipping up the media frenzy and getting some good press for her whole anti-Israel leanings.
First, she and Rep. Ilhan Omar made national headlines when they cried about Israel denying their entry based on their pro-BDS movement views. Turns out, though, that both Tlaib and Omar could’ve gone to Israel with a congressional delegation hosted by AIPAC to brief members of Congress on security and politics in the Jewish state. But they said no; instead, they demanded solo trips — and apparently, recognition of Palestine as a real thing.
“In addition to wanting to go alone, they reportedly refused any government briefings and [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu said their itinerary mentioned only ‘Palestine,’ a country that doesn’t exist and a word often used to deny Israel’s right to exist,” Michael Goodwin wrote in The New York Post.
There’s a bit the mainstream media doesn’t talk about much.
Then Tlaib said she wanted to visit her grandmother, her poor, elderly grandmother “who is in her 90s and lives in Beit Ur al-Fouqa,” she said, CNN reported.
“This could be my last opportunity to see her,” Tlaib said.
Sniff, sniff. Still, Israel reversed course and said OK. Tlaib can visit, Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said in a statement, under humanitarian conditions and only so long as she agrees to refrain from pushing any BDS views while in the Jewish state.
Then it was Tlaib’s turn to reverse course.
“I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in — fighting racism, oppression & injustice,” Tlaib tweeted, adding that she had “decided not to travel” to Israel after all.
Interesting. Then came the remark from Maher.
Then came Tlaib’s next tweet: “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.”
Then came the World Jewish Congress’s reaction.
“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,” said WJC President Ronald Lauder in a written statement reported by The Hill.
Then came the handful of Democrats in Congress calling — perhaps — for censure of Dermer.
“House Democrats weigh action against U.S. and Israel ambassadors over banned visit,” McClatchy’s D.C. Bureau wrote in a headline.
The story goes on to say that “about a dozen lawmakers, including senior Jewish members, began discussions on Friday morning over ways to communicate a ‘deep lack of confidence and trust’ in Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, and the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.”
Tlaib may not be getting her way with her trip to Israel — er, make that “Palestine.”
But she’s getting the media swirl. She’s getting the media attention. Sure as can be, she’s getting some sympathy for her situation.
And in the end, that means she’s getting plenty of attention put on the BDS movement, slowly bringing the talk from fringe to mainstream.
In the end, Tlaib’s getting what she wants after all.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley.