Posted on: February 20, 2022 Posted by: Mitchell Plitnick Comments: 0

In Haaretz today, we find an article headlined, in part, with a quote from an anonymous “leading official in a major liberal pro-Israel organization” calling pro-Palestinian objections to the recent solidarity delegation of Democrats led by Nancy Pelosi to Israel a “crazy backlash.”

The full quote: “You can disagree with certain members, but this crazy backlash and demonization is absurd, counterproductive and problematic. The idea of pushing for a position of ‘Israel in and of itself is illegitimate, so you shouldn’t visit’ is promoting an idea that has barely any support at all, and it’s not going to get any. The discourse is changing, but it’s about how to think critically about the engagement, not how to engage in the first place.”

The article goes on to compare the response to this delegation to the controversy last summer within the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) to Jamaal Bowman joining a J Street delegation to Israel. It will come as no surprise that I strongly disagree.

I think the framing misses some essential points. First, the response to this delegation is very different from the one to Jamaal Bowman last year. Bowman went with an organization known to criticize Israel, albeit a Zionist one, J Street. Even many progressives considered the reaction by DSA to be very extreme, as evidenced by the defense of Bowman by many, including myself.

This trip was very different. It was expressly termed as a trip to express support for Israel at a particularly sensitive time. It was organized by an extreme pro-Israel congresswoman, Pelosi. Barbara Lee and Andy Kim had the good sense to at least keep their heads down about this, but Ro Khanna was shameless in his praise for Israel, as evidenced in his interview with the Times of Israel. He simply overflowed with his love and admiration of Israel, as if it had not been accused of apartheid by Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem, and, most recently Amnesty International, supporting a charge that Palestinians have been leveling for decades. Khanna’s scant mentions of “human rights,” in the interview were often abstract and never with any sense that Israel had work to do on that front, let alone that he grasped the massive breadth and depth of Israeli crimes against Palestinians, came off as the worst kind of cynicism.

I go into more detail on all of this in my latest piece published today at The New Arab.