Arab voices seldom heard

Israel sparked outrage August 14 when it banned two freshman Democratic congresswomen of color — Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — from entering the country. Following outcry from Democratic leaders and Palestinians, Israel granted permission for Tlaib to enter the country on “humanitarian” grounds to visit her family in the West Bank — though Tlaib said on August 16 she will not visit her family under such conditions. Israel originally denied entrance to Tlaib and Omar after President Donald Trump tweeted, “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people.”

Congress members Tlaib and Omar are the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, and were planning to tour East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank. Both congresswomen have voiced support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement, a global solidarity campaign with the Palestinian people. The nonviolent movement seeks to use economic and cultural pressure to force Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian lands. 

The two interlocutors below hardly ever appear on American television on on the CBC,

They make too much sense

HANAN ASHRAWI:noted Palestinian academic,scholar and politician

This is really unacceptable. It’s a direct insult to the American people. It’s a direct insult to the representatives of the American people. And it’s a way in which Israel shows that it is a dictatorship that cannot tolerate any criticism, and that it will prevent anybody from interacting with the Palestinian people or seeing the reality of this cruel and illegal occupation on the ground.

MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: serves as General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI). Well, let me first say why do Israel behaves in this manner. I think this Israeli establishment, before everything else, is afraid and frightened from exposing the realities here in Palestine. They are afraid of that such a visit, with media coverage, will expose the longest occupation in modern history, will expose the severe violations of human rights of Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli establishment, and will expose the worst system of apartheid ever, where racial discrimination is practiced against Palestinians in the worst possible way.

The second reason is practically this is a proof that Israel is not a democracy. And no democracy in the world would prevent elected congresswomen from the United States from visiting. This is another proof that it is a myth to claim that Israel is the only democracy in the region.

Third, I think this act is reflecting a racial discriminatory approach, a racism in which I think there is here some kind of similarity between Netanyahu and Mr. Trump, racial discrimination against people because of their ethnic origin or because of their religion or because of their opinions.

And at the end of the day, the Israeli effort to impose on Rashida Tlaib conditions for her visit here is nothing but an act of separation of freedom of expression. And I hope that Rashida does not accept that. And I also hope that she does not allow separating her from Ilhan Omar, because I think both of them should be allowed to come in.

And as was said, the fact that Israel took such a decision is an insult to democracy, insult to the American people, insult to the country that they claim they have an alliance with. And it shows the real skin of this Israeli establishment, which insists on not only maintaining a horrible occupation against Palestinians, but also on consolidating a system of apartheid. Their attacks on BDS and their attacks on solidarity movements with Palestinian people is nothing but an act of psychological terror to frighten people from telling the truth.

Such a visit would have been very important in exposing the reality here, because we know that in many, many American media outlets, the truth is not coming through to the American public. All we want is that the American public knows the truth, knows the reality. And if the American public knows the truth, they will immediately take a stand, I am sure, a stand against this system of oppression and apartheid conducted by Israel against the Palestinian people.