Amid last week’s debate over whether Israel should have issued waivers to Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, and allowed them to promote the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement from within Israel. The main scandal is that Tlaib and Omar’s trip was planned by the antisemitic, pro-terror Miftah organization.
A reporter in Israel reminded everyone on Twitter that in 2013, Miftah published a blood libel against Jews. The term “blood libel” has been applied in other contexts in recent years, but Miftah claimed Jews have murdered Christian children to use their blood for baking matzos at Passover.
Historically, blood libels resulted in pogroms, including in England, Poland, and Russia; they contributed to the expulsion of Jews from England from 1290 to 1657. Jews were trialled. Confessions were extracted by torture. When Miftah published its lie, the final blood libel trial of a Jew in Western history was only 100 years past. When their essay was publicized, Miftah first tried to attack those who exposed them, then apologized but only in English, not in Arabic.
Given its antisemitism, it is not surprising Miftah also has supported Palestinian terrorism against Israel. In a 2017 interview, Miftah founder and chairwoman Hanan Ashrawi defended such attacks, stating they “are seen by the people as resistance. And you cannot somehow adopt the language of either the international community or the occupier by describing anybody who resists as terrorist (sic).” Miftah also described one of the first female Palestinian suicide bombers as “the beginning of a string of Palestinian women dedicated to sacrificing their lives for the cause”.
In reporting on Israel’s exclusion of Tlaib and Omar, The New York Times described Miftah only as “an organization headed by a longtime Palestinian lawmaker”. The Times editorial board called Miftah a group “that promotes global awareness and knowledge of Palestinian realities”.
The Times, after publishing an antisemitic cartoon in its international edition a few months ago, editorialized it as a “dangerous mistake“ to dismiss antisemitism as a fringe element in society, but on Miftah, Tlaib, and Omar the paper continues to fall painfully short of “fair journalism and the clear editorial expression of its values”. Or its values seem to require a certain amount of blinking.
The Los Angeles Times editorialized that “the only disgrace here is Trump’s behavior” in encouraging Israel to exclude Tlaib and Omar, noting in passing “the trip of the two congresswomen was being arranged by Miftah, a nonprofit organization headed by a Palestinian lawmaker”. CNN’s story avoids mentioning Miftah altogether.
Beyond Miftah, Omar, and Tlaib, the same media whitewash occurs regarding the antisemitic BDS movement. Omar Barghouti, Co-founder of the movement, compares Israel to the Nazis, claims Israeli soldiers shoot Palestinian children “for sport,” denies that Jews are one of the indigenous peoples of the region and have no right to self-determination.
Allowing antisemitism to grow within the Democratic Party and defending obviously antisemitic Democrats is bad for the country. And looking at the current struggles of the Labour Party, it is likely to be toxic for Democrats most of all. Even a biased media outlet ought to recognize that much.