It is not unusual for bystanders to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to make pronouncements that are more focused on “scoring points” than on bringing Israelis and Palestinians together. A recent example of such agenda-driven sophistry occurred last week, on the 74th anniversary of what Palestinians call the “Nakba” — their very real losses during Israel’s War of Independence — when Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) introduced what is believed to be the first congressional resolution seeking to advance “the Palestinian narrative.”
The resolution — in which Tlaib was joined by fellow congressional Squad members Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush, Betty McCollum and Marie Newman — recognizes the Palestinians as Israel’s indigenous people and, among other things, calls for the right of 7 million “refugees” to return to that land, in contrast to the 750,000 refugees who left in 1949.
The resolution has absolutely no chance of success. But that wasn’t the point. Instead, proponents are seeking to advance the Palestinian narrative that portrays Israel as the aggressor, the Palestinians as passive victims and the United States as a silent partner to Israel’s ethnic cleansing and, in later decades, apartheid.
What’s missing, of course, is any recognition of the legitimacy of the Zionist objective of returning Jews to Eretz Yisrael based on Jewish descent from the ancient Israelites. Rather, the resolution presents Jews as U.S.-backed aggressors and does not recognize the Jewish presence in the land before the Zionist settlement. Similarly, when the resolution speaks of the United Nations, it points to Palestinian opposition to the 1947 Partition plan but ignores the U.N.’s recognition of the new state of Israel. And there is much more. But facts and actual history are not allowed to interfere with the Squad’s preferred narrative to delegitimize the Jewish state.
The resolution signals a turning point. Until now, the Squad has been tinkering around the edges: supporting BDS, questioning military aid to Israel, criticizing Israel’s settlement regime and otherwise searching for ways to challenge the rock-solid U.S-Israel relationship. Even as we disagreed with the Squad’s anti-Israel rants, we understood that reasonable minds could disagree on some of the issues they raised. But the new resolution changes everything. No longer do Squad members seek to hide behind the veneer of reform or reasoned debate. Now, they have made clear their intent to reject Israel and its right to exist, and to erase Jews from their connection to the land and history.
We reject the lie. And we invite others to do so. But we urge caution in the framing of that opposition. The Tlaib resolution is dishonest, biased and offensive. Its failure to recognize the state of Israel even as it argues for a more sympathetic approach toward the Palestinian population exposes its fundamental flaw. And while there may be elements of antisemitism baked into the anti-Israel narrative, there is more to it than that. As such, there is little to gain by attacking the resolution as antisemitic. Instead, focus on the facts, on verifiable history and on the legitimacy of the Zionist enterprise. The Squad can’t deal with that.