Despite the myriad crises this country is facing, still Israel has been a dominant topic in Congress as of late. These are by no means uncharted waters for Israel in light of its complicated past, but the current narrative is of a new and altogether troublesome breed. It’s no surprise that the so-called “Squad” are at the center of the controversy, especially as Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar have made no effort to conceal their disdain for Israel. All came to a head two weeks past, though, when they were denied entry into Israel, a decision which sparked furor and provoked the Congresswomen into hosting a press conference. Designed to denigrate Israel and extol the Palestinians, their press conference was nothing more than a heady mix of righteous indignation, impassioned waterworks, and gross misinformation. Having just returned from an extended stay in Israel, I say this all with complete confidence. The ugly picture these two women paint bears no resemblance to the truth.
For instance, Representative Omar decried the inhumane conditions within the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank. Her disapproval of the Palestinian condition has merit, especially in the case of Gaza. I myself saw and was greatly troubled by their substandard quality of life, and they certainly deserve better. However, Omar’s calculated omission of the basic facts was highly misleading. Both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas shoulder the blame for the neglect and decline, as they spend more money on weapons and terror than on their own people. As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Omar most certainly knows this. If she is truly the champion of Palestinian rights that she so ardently claims to be, then she should vilify the true source of the exploitation and oppression.
In similar fashion, Representative Tlaib scorned Israel’s rigid security apparatus, which includes checkpoints and barriers. She labeled the former dehumanizing, and then pithily quipped of the latter that “walls are destructive, not productive.” To be sure, neither security measure is ideal, as they create disruption and hardship for Palestinians wishing to move about. Tlaib would have you believe they are both tools of Israeli domination and occupation, but that is another lie. Only in the wake of Palestinian terror attacks did Israel implement such stringent security measures. Turns out that checkpoints and barriers, though inconvenient, are highly effective at foiling terrorism. Moreover, having toured the checkpoint facilities myself, I know that Israel expends immense energy and resources to better the security process, making it faster, smoother, and less intrusive. All that said, when we begin to perceive security as more dehumanizing than terror, we have a serious problem.
Let it be known that Israel is not perfect, and thus not above legitimate criticism. However, the actions and words of Representatives Omar and Tlaib are immensely dishonest and thereby illegitimate. To call Israel a racist occupier who perpetuates human rights violations is a bald-faced lie. The condition in which the Palestinian people find themselves today is unacceptable and rapidly deteriorating, especially in Gaza. Their leaders must be held to account. If the Palestinian Authority and Hamas wish to assert their legitimacy, that means they must accept the most basic responsibilities that come with governance; funneling money into terrorist projects while cruelly exploiting the people is unacceptable. To say otherwise is an injustice all its own, and until Tlaib and Omar accept these most basic and undeniable facts, they ought to keep their false narratives and crocodile tears to themselves. In the meantime, the United States should continue to support Israel, its sovereignty, and right to self-defense.
Courtney A. Crowley is an Amarillo resident and has a master’s degree in history from West Texas A&M University. She is a contributing columnist for Amarillo Globe-News.