Reps. Rashida Tlaib, left, and Ilhan Omar held a join press conference on Aug. 19 to discuss Israel's barring them from the country.
FPI / August 20, 2019
LGBTQ activists have been banned by the Palestinian Authority (PA) from all activities in the West Bank.
The ban comes after the group alQaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society, which supports Palestinians who identify as a part of the gay community, had announced it would hold a gathering for its members at the end of August in Nablus.
A columnist for the Washington Examiner noted that this is the same “Palestine” touted by Democratic “progressive” U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who champion the Palestinians’ cause while painting Israel as “oppressors.”
“It’s bizarre and hypocritical that ostensibly progressive congresswomen such as Omar and Tlaib who claim to support gay rights and the dignity of gay people, side with illiberal, homophobic governments over our freedom-loving allies in Tel Aviv. Let's see them explain that away,” Brad Polumbo wrote in an Aug. 19 op-ed for the Examiner.
In a joint press conference on Aug. 19, Tlaib and Omar slammed the decision last week by Israel's government to bar them from the Jewish State.
"As a young girl visiting Palestine to visit my family I watched as my mother had to go through dehumanizing checkpoints even though she was a United States citizen and proud American," an emotional Tlaib said.
President Donald Trump tweeted on Aug. 20: “Sorry, I don’t buy Rep. Tlaib’s tears. I have watched her violence, craziness and, most importantly, WORDS, for far too long. Now tears? She hates Israel and all Jewish people. She is an anti-Semite. She and her 3 friends are the new face of the Democrat Party. Live with it!”
Trump was referring to Tlaib and “the squad” members Omar, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ayanna Pressley.
Omar at the Aug. 19 press conference said Congress should reconsider U.S. aid allocated to Israel.
In an Aug. 19 op-ed for The Jerusalem Post, Rabbi Smuley Boteach, known as “America’s Rabbi,” said Israel was right to ban Tlaib and Omar, who both support the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
“Like America, Israel is a nation of laws, and the democratically elected government adopted a law in 2017 which prohibits the entry into Israel of any foreigner who makes a ‘public call for boycotting Israel’ or ‘any area under its control.’ This includes proponents of the BDS movement,” Boteach wrote.
Luay Zreikat, spokesperson for the PA Police, told the Jerusalem Post in an Aug. 19 report that activities carried out by the alQaws LGBTQ organization are “harmful to the higher values and ideals of Palestinian society” and the police will identify and detain those affiliated with LGBTQ activism in the West Bank.
Zreikat said the alQaws activities were completely “unrelated to religions and Palestinian traditions and customs, especially in the city of Nablus," and that "dubious parties" were working to “create discord and harm civic peace in Palestinian society.”
Zreikat also warned that PA Police will arrest anyone caught in violation of the law and urged Palestinians to report any violation of the law they witness.
“The Palestinian police announcement about our activities is very unfortunate,” alQaws stated in response to the new law. “It’s very strange that they are accusing us of being a suspicious entity working to take apart Palestinian society. AlQaws is a Palestinian organization that has been operating since 2001 and is carrying out educational and professional programs on sexual and gender diversity. We totally reject the attempt to create an atmosphere of prosecution and intimidation, as well threats of arrest.”
Prior to news breaking on the PA’s ban on LGBTQ activism, Tlaib had tweeted: "We are not going to fall for Trump’s distractions. Instead, we’re going to keep up our momentum. Detroit Jews and our allies — Muslim communities, communities of color, immigrants, the LGBTQ community...”
Omar had said: "There are so many people invested in our pain, in our struggle, in seeing us broken. As we fight for the most marginalized people, we have our internal liberation carry us to external liberation. There is no way we are ever going to allow people to tear us down."
Polumbo noted that “one thing is no longer disputable: the blatant hypocrisy of supposedly progressive Democrats supporting an illiberal Palestinian Authority government over our Israeli allies. After all, members of ‘the squad’ such as Tlaib and Omar have come down firmly on the side of Palestine in the conflict, falsely painting Israel as their ‘oppressors’ and in Omar’s case, even invoking anti-Semitic rhetoric in her criticisms of Israel.”
Israel is the only Middle East country which protects LGBTQ people under anti-discrimination laws.
In the Gaza Strip, which is run by the Hamas terror organization, homosexuality is punishable by death. According to Amnesty International, “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people were subjected to arbitrary arrest and ill-treatment.”
Polumbo noted: “This is the society that Tlaib, Omar, and company vociferously defend. Such vicious anti-gay intolerance betrays everything the progressive women claim to stand for, and reveals the dysfunctionality of their intersectional worldview.”
According to Pew Research, nearly 95 percent of Palestinians reject homosexuality.
For their part, Omar and Tlaib did comment on the PA’s move to ban LGBTQ activism.
Omar shared on social media a message from alQaws, listing “5 Ways to Support Palestinian Queers.”
“LGBTQ rights are human rights and we should condemn any effort to infringe upon them,” Omar wrote.
Tlaib also re-tweeted the alQaws post, along with a supporting message from the Adalah Justice Project, a Palestinian Human Rights organization.
But Omar also used her statement to criticize Israel.
“Pretending that this act somehow balances or mitigates Israel violating the dignity & rights of Palestinians - or undermines case for defending Palestinian rights - is deplorable!” she wrote.
“But we should also condemn any effort to equate this with the occupation or use this as a distraction.”
It is this sentiment, Boteach noted, which precipitated Israel’s barring of Tlaib and Omar.
“Why ban BDS supporters?” Boteach asked.
“The answer is that their objective is the destruction of Israel. They make no secret of this goal. As Assad Abu Khali has said, ‘The real aim of BDS is to bring down the State of Israel… That should be stated as an unambiguous goal. There should not be any equivocation on the subject. Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the State of Israel.’
Boteach continued; “Who said that Israel is obligated to invite people into the country who seek its destruction?
“Since entering Congress just a few months ago, and in the years before, Omar and Tlaib have waged war against Israel and the Jewish people. They have made disgustingly antisemitic comments, including accusations that the Jewish people are not loyal to the United States but to Israel; that the Jewish people buy politicians with their money; that Israel hypnotizes the world with its evil actions; and that Israel is an apartheid occupier which must be boycotted.
“We can only assume that what Omar and Tlaib would be doing in Israel is simply inciting and inflaming the Palestinian population, or at the very least trying to visit upon Israel the most negative possible media coverage in order to delegitimize the Middle East’s only democracy before the eyes of the world.”
Free Press International