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How Rep Rashida Tlaib’s Nakba Event Hurts the Palestinians

For many Arabs living in Israel today, a more accurate word than Nakba would be Fursa, or opportunity.
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May 9, 2023
U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) reacts to testimony by Yazmin Juarez, mother of 19-month-old Mariee, who died after detention by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); during a House Oversight Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services hearing titled, “Kids in Cages: Inhumane Treatment at the Border” in Washington, U.S. July 10, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott

Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s (D-MI) pitches herself as a champion of the Palestinian cause. But you wouldn’t know it from the anti-Israel event she is hosting on May 10 at the Capitol Visitor Center to commemorate the “catastrophe” of the founding of Israel.

“May 15th marks 75 years since the beginning of the Nakba, which means ‘catastrophe,’” the event page states.

Tlaib must have known that hosting an event describing Israel as a catastrophe would provoke the usual pushback.

“She continues to serve as a cheerleader for demonization and delegitimization of the Jewish state,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center told the Free Beacon.

“The real ‘catastrophe’ is Rep. Tlaib and her allies’ refusal to engage with Zionism in good faith,” Liora Rez, Executive Director of StopAntisemitism, said to the New York Post.

By freezing history in 1948, she freezes the helpless status of her people and gives them no hope.

Brooke Goldstein, who heads The Lawfare Project and co-founded End Jew Hatred, tweeted: “It’s one thing to spew hateful rhetoric, it’s another to use US Congress to do so. Rashida Tlaib [shouldn’t] be permitted to hold a ‘Nakba Day’ event on US Congress property.”

As far as I can tell, however, no one has challenged using the word “catastrophe” to describe the impact Israel has had on Arabs. That word is not just hateful rhetoric; it’s highly misleading.

For many Arabs living in Israel today, a more accurate word would be Fursa, or opportunity.

A March 2022 report on Israel’s Arab population from the prestigious Israel Democracy Institute concluded that:

“Arab society in Israel is being revolutionized by the rise in the standard of living, life expectancy and education, along with the decline in fertility rates, changes to family structures, and an increasing desire to realize individual aspirations at the expense of collective values.”

In other words, Arabs living in the Jewish state today have rights, freedoms and opportunities they would be hard pressed to find in Arab nations of the region, where authoritarianism is the rule.

How is that a catastrophe?

Rep. Tlaib knows that she must hide this good news at all cost. It would undermine her narrative to make Israel the chronic oppressor and the Palestinians the chronic victims. She knows that as long as she can associate Israel with the word Nakba, she wins. The problem, of course, is that her people lose.

By freezing history in 1948, she freezes the helpless status of her people and gives them no hope. By covering up the remarkable progress that has occurred for Arab Israelis over the decades, she keeps her people frozen in time, paralyzed by the drug of permanent grievance.

If she truly wanted what’s best for her people, her message would be not one of catastrophe but one of opportunity. For starters, she would urge Palestinian leadership to do for Palestinians what Israel has done for Arab Israelis. In fact, if every Arab nation would treat their own people the way Israel treats its Arab minority, it would transform the region.

Tlaib’s no fool. She knows all that. She sees Arabs graduate from the top medical schools in Israel, she sees Arabs on the Israeli Supreme Court and Arab representatives yell with the best of them in the Knesset. She knows that the Nakba of 1948 is really the Fursa of 2023.

Maybe next year, she could organize a Fursa Day and invite Arab Israelis to speak about the many opportunities they have enjoyed in Israel.

That would be a catastrophe only for those who hate Israel.

Update: Speaker Kevin McCarthy tweeted on May 9 that in place of the Nakba Day event, he “will host a bipartisan discussion to honor the 75th anniversary of the US-Israel relationship.”

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