Exploit your Granny. That sounds like something Billy Connolly might say, but it's no joke.
(Warning. This post has turned out longer than I intended. I’m no Mark Twain but I didn’t have time to write a shorter piece.
The abundant press coverage of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib’s thwarted propaganda-finding trip to “Palestine” spans the whole gamut of opinion. On one side of the fence sit the indignant anti-Israel activists who insist that this pair of congresswomen is being singled out “only by those who decline to distinguish critiques of the Jewish state from attacks on Jews”. Squatting close beside them are the Trump-hating obsessives. Travel through various shades of opinion to find - at the opposite end - realists (like us) who see the entire fiasco as a grossly unpleasant publicity stunt. One which, as time goes on, appears more and more to be back-firing. (hope so)
Noah Rothman in Commentary Magazine, concludes:
“The only thing that saves Reps. Omar Tlaib and Rashida Tlaib from the universal reproach they are due is the plausibility of the claim that their displays of anti-Semitism are unconscious. But the preponderance of evidence suggests that they know exactly what they are saying and why. Those who continue to defend them probably do, too.
Bassam Tawil (Gatestone) recognises that Rashida Tlaib’s subsequent activities have exposed the whole exercise for the pantomime it was.
"I would like to request admittance to Israel," she had written, "in order to visit my relatives, and specifically my grandmother, who is in her 90s and lives in Beit Ur al-Fouqa. This could be my last opportunity to see her. I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit. Thank you, Rashida Tlaib.”
Wrong-footed by “permission to visit” unexpectedly being granted - immediately and exactly as requested - Tlaib wriggled her way out of it, announcing:
"Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother's heart.”
The BBC appears to favour the congresswomen, whitewashing their racism and taking their mission statements at face value, i.e. by accepting that this was a genuine fact-finding exercise, that Miftah, the organisation that was to host the pair is a peace-seeking organisation, and even describing Hanan Ashrawi as a peace activist.
The fact is that Hanan Ashrawi is in favour of violence and supports Hamas. It has been said that "she is to Truth what Smoking is to Health” The BBC overlooks evidence that shows her organisation Miftah to be deeply antisemitic in the truly traditional manner - blood libel and all, yet she is regarded as a credible Palestinian spokesperson and is treated by the BBC with misplaced respect.
Tlaib’s grandmother-related misery has set off a spate of sentimental Palestinian-grandmother eulogising. The Guardian features a typically mawkish and nonsensical example by Arwa Mahdawi
"There are not many good news stories about Palestine so I was thrilled when, over the weekend, #MyPalestineSitty trended on Twitter. A tribute by congresswoman Rashida Tlaib to the “sitty” (Arabic for grandmother) she was not able to visit inspired thousands of people to post emotive memories of their own Palestinian grandmothers.
Of course, Tlaib's disingenuousness was exposed because she was able to visit.
“I hesitated about writing this column. Talking about Palestine is always fraught; you can be accused of hating Israel simply for mentioning the P-word. Sometimes, it’s easier to say nothing because the trolls that inevitably hound you are just not worth it. But nobody should be afraid to remember their grandmother. Mine lived through decades of conflict; I hope she is finally resting in peace.
Which is blatant projection and reversal of the actualité. “Hesitated about writing this column”? Why? It ticks all the boxes. Trolls? On balance, the truth is that the trolls belong to you. I know we’re all entitled to our opinions, but that piece was utter Guardanista garbage.
The atmosphere is getting heavier all the time. Who’d have thought the antisemitism in Corbyn’s Labour Party would be a precursor, a forecast, of the direction in which the Democratic Party is heading, all the way across the pond? It's usually 'we' who follow 'them'.
The ‘good Jew / bad Jew’ scenario, where the ‘good’ but rogue anti-Zionist Jew shields from exposure all the antisemites who cry “but some of my best friends are Jews”.
Kathy Gyngell praises Dennis Prager over on The Conservative Woman. Prager on why anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism, and I ought to be delighted to see such a post on that site, especially at a time when Brexit occupies most of our focus. But the predictable responses came along to ruin it. The ignorance displayed by certain commenters is matched only by their refusal to budge. They know what they think and they’re sticking to it. They have their own 'truth'.
One commenter even said: “Who cares? I'm bored to death of hearing about Israel and Jews every 5 minutes.” Apart from the absurdity of taking the trouble to compose a completely unnecessary message, equal only in pointlessness to the notice in the middle of nowhere that simply says “do not throw stones at this notice,” here is a person whose comment is nothing more than an advert for his own arrogance and insouciance.
On a brighter note, many of the comments are positive. The link to Stephen Harper’s video goes some way towards redressing the balance, but as I write the comments field is filling up with old-style, right-wing bile. The relative obscurity of this site lets us off that particular hook.
Critics of President Trump have leapt on his remark about Jews who ‘still vote Democrat’ to accuse him of antisemitism. They conclude that any criticism of ‘Jews’ amounts to antisemitism no matter how much the Jews in question act like the proverbial turkeys and Christmas. It’s bonkers, but par for the course.
Melanie Phillips absolutely nails it here. If you can’t be arsed to plough through my verbiage, read Melanie. The thread over on Harry’s Place on the same subject throws up some interesting links, (and that site has its fair share of Trumpophobes, lefties and Netanyahuophobes within its overall pro-Israel position) but having read it I'm even more impressed by Melanie Phillips’s eloquence.
By the way, I understand my grandparents (both sets) fled from eastern European pogroms in the late 1800s and I didn’t know them, so your luck is in. I won’t be boring anyone with mawkish, saccharine eulogies about my granny.