The media is whitewashing Rashida Tlaib’s junket for freshman Congressmen to Israel, which is being sponsored by an outstanding humanitarian NGO. What they aren’t telling you is that the second sponsor is a rabidly anti-Israel NGO founded just to produce propaganda and a history of turning U.S. politicians into antisemite.
Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib has only been in office for five months but she has already been the focus of criticism for anti-Israel and antisemitic comments. In the most recent case, she described a “calming feeling” that came over her when made she thought about how the Palestinians created a “safe haven for Jews” after the Holocaust. Rather than rebuke or correct the freshman congressman, the leaders of the Democratic Party expressed outrage of any criticism or claims that her statements were grossly inaccurate representations of historical events. Tlaib’s pride at creating a “safe haven” for Jews seems inconsistent with her objection to a New York Times headline that (accurately) reported on hundreds of rockets being fired at Israel. When Tlaib was sworn in (on a Koran), she was elated when she arrived at her office. A friend had posted a sticker on a world map, obscuring Israel and relabeling it ‘Palestine’.
This misperception of global and geographic realities was consistent with her plan to organize a junket for freshmen Congressmen to visit a region in the Middle East the invitation referred to as “Palestine and the Occupied Territories.” Palestine does not exist on any map depicting reality and it is to be assumed the junket will fly into Ben Gurion International Airport located in Israel.
Tlaib’s trip to Israel will take place on August 17-22. This is when Congress takes its summer recess. As such, this is also the time when the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) sponsors a trip for freshman congressmen. The bipartisan AIPAC trip, led by senior House representatives, is intended to foster positive relationships between these new politicians and America’s closest ally in the region. Since the two trips will overlap, the politicians will not be able to attend both. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (NY-D) has announced she will be skipping the AIPAC trip.
Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress, told Jewish Insider that the trip is meant to show “the human impact on Palestinians, and what an opportunity of value to have a sitting congress member that has a living grandmother in the Occupied Territories.”
Tlaib was born in Detroit but her grandparents live in Israel. Her father was born in Jerusalem and her mother was born in Samaria.
When Tlaib announced the trip, she identified the sponsor as the Humpty Dumpty Institute, a not-for-profit organization based in New York City. On its website, the organization claims it is “dedicated to tackling difficult global and domestic issues by establishing innovative and strategic public/private partnerships that provide sensible solutions to serious problems.” The unusual name was conceived by three founders after witnessing the aftermath of the horrific Rwandan genocide. Feeling the world was broken, they conceived an organization that would put together the pieces after government efforts had failed.
Humpty Dumpty Institute seems to be an organization with high-minded humanitarian ideals so Tlaib identifying them as the sponsor of her junket gave it the veneer of respectability. Her trip to the “occupied territories” has a second sponsor whose role has been given much less media attention: MIFTAH, the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy.
MIFTAH was founded in 1998 by Hanan Ashrawi, a politician in the Palestinian Authority who was a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). In 1988 during the First Intifada, when she joined the Intifada Political Committee.
In 2003 Ashrawi was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize. Michael Kapel, a member of the board of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, protested the decision, describing Ashrawi as “an apologist for Islamic terror.” In fact, MIFTAH describes known suicide bombers as “the ranks of the resistance movement.”
As a tool for Ashrawi, MIFTAH is quite effective and its anti-Israel activities are well-documented by NGO Monitor. MIFTAH publishes articles advocating for Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) which accuse Israel of apartheid policies. MIFTAH also shared an article about the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights in which Israel is compared to the Ku Klux Klan.
In March 2013, MIFTAH published an article written by Nawaf al-Zaru that repeated the antisemitic blood libel that Jews use Christian blood to bake Passover matzah.
In 2016, MIFTAH organized a Congressional junket for five US Congressmen to visit east Jerusalem and Ramallah similar to the one Tlaib is hosting. Following the trip, one of the congressmen, Hank Johnson (GA-D), made comparisons between Israeli settlers and termites. After significant criticism, Johnson apologized for his “poor choice of words.”
On that trip, the Congressmen met with Shawan Jabarin who has ties to the PFLP, which is recognized by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization. This raises the question of whether the Congressmen traveling to Israel with Tlaib in August will be meeting with acknowledged terrorists.