“Talk about being between a rock and a hard place”! Even for the embattled Jewish state, this was a completely new twist. PM Bibi Netanyahu had to choose between siding with President Donald Trump or with the US Congress. Now, amid a firestorm of criticism, a partial solution has been reached. Despite first agreeing that two Muslim anti-Israel congresswomen be allowed to come and launch an anti-Israeli binge, Bibi suddenly barred their entry following President Trump issuing a stern warning not to do so. As Trump put it, “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed representatives Omar and Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel and all Jewish people, and there’s nothing that can be said or done to change their minds.”
“It would show great weakness if Israel allowed representatives Omar and Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel and all Jewish people…”
Suddenly the Jewish state became a political football between the Republican President and Democrats in the US Congress.
American Jews were also caught in this political firestorm between Republicans and Democrats as most Jewish political organizations tended to support the Muslim congresswomen. Not surprisingly, Netanyahu was hauled over the coals after first saying that Israel is a free country and members of congress are welcome. To add fuel to the flames, the congresswomen also happen to be democrats. It is fair to say that the majority of American Jews oppose Trump. But after a day or so of sharp words, a partial political solution was hammered out.
Likely on Bibi’s advice, Israel’s Interior Minister, Aryeh Deri, determined that just one of the congresswomen, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, would request a Visa for a humanitarian visit to see her 90-year-old Palestinian grandmother. Tlaib committed to honor the limitations and not promote Israeli boycotts during her stay. In making this request, she explained this might be her last opportunity to meet with her aged grandmother. The congresswoman is now expected to arrive within the next few days, but without her colleague, Ilhan Omar.
It would seem her hate for Israel outweighs her love for her grandmother.
Update: Rashida Tlaib has since decided she’s not going to come after all, having apparently decided that the trip was no worth making if she could not use it to call for further boycotts on Israel. It would seem her hate for Israel outweighs her love for her grandmother.
Previously, Bibi had said that the visits of the two congresswomen were in fact financed by BDS, some of whose members are outright terrorists. So why did the Israeli leader flipflop knowing full well that he would reap a whirlwind of criticism for barring two members of the illustrious US Congress? Israel’s leader is not stupid; he realized that this was an almost no-win situation. He knew that if he followed Trump’s request/order that he would be tarred and feathered by the media, the Democrats, as well as American Jewish organizations.
But, on the other hand, consider Trump’s strong support for the Jewish state that is now engaged in a low-intensity war not only with Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank but also in Syria against the backdrop of Tehran’s threats to wipe the Jewish state off the map. This as they continue to develop their nuclear weapons program by openly developing ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) whose sole purpose is to nuke Israel.
Moreover, in the wake of the Syrian civil war, Iranian forces have been trying to build a forward military base in southern Syria along the Israeli border. It is an ongoing confrontation with Israeli jets, supplied by the US, to persistently target this Iranian threat. Despite being thwarted in Syria, the Iranians have recently been trying another tactic to use Iraq as a second conduit for moving its missiles and military personal closer to Israel aiming to open yet another front. And again, according to foreign news reports, the IDF has been countering this using American advanced F-35 Sleuth fighter-bombers. (If so, this would be the first time that America’s topline fighter has been combat-tested. Obviously, this valuable experience is being relayed back to the US air force.) America’s support of Israel acts as a counterweight to Russia’s military presence in Syria.
If this was not sufficient to understand why any sane Israeli Prime Minister cannot reject out-of-hand the “request-behest” of the US President, consider that in the midst of the current furor the Wall Street Journal dropped this bombshell on August 15th: “Israel and the United Arab Emirates held secret meetings arranged by the US in recent months to share information, coordinate efforts, and share responsibilities to counter what they see as an increasing threat posed by Iran, according to US officials the familiar with the clandestine diplomacy. Trump is prodding the longtime adversaries on intelligence gathering and military cooperation against a common threat.”
Whether you love or hate Bibi, being Prime Minister of an embattled Israel requires the wisdom of a King Solomon.
This is the sort of mind-boggling decision making that an Israeli Prime Minister has to consider when coping with a US President pitted against an adversarial Congress. Whether you love or hate Bibi, being Prime Minister of an embattled Israel requires the wisdom of a King Solomon. Here’s hoping he’s succeeded this time with the two Muslim Congresswomen who reject the very idea of a Jewish state.