House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Tuesday blocked PA Arab-American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s (D-MI) antisemitic congressional event she was planning for Wednesday.
The event was supposed to commemorate the Nakba––that’s the declaration of Jewish independence in the Land of Israel to you and me. The word means “catastrophe,” and has been used initially to describe the suffering of the Arabs of Eretz Israel whose leaders had refused to embrace the 1947 UN resolution that divided the country between Arabs and Jews––resulting in a persistent refugee problem.
However, sometime in the 1990s, the PA Arabs started using the term Nakba to describe not only their catastrophe but the establishment of the Jewish State, and to them, this catastrophe is not only a one-time historic event but an ongoing trauma that will persist as long as the Jewish State persists in remaining alive.
The term “Nakba” was first coined by Konstantin Zoreik, a Syrian professor of Oriental Studies at the American University in Beirut, in his 1948 book, “Maana Al-Nakba” (“The Meaning of the Catastrophe). Zoreik, who wrote his book during the War of Independence, originally referred to the military failure of the invading armies of seven Arab countries to annihilate the fledgling Jewish State.
In May 2022, Tlaib introduce a “House Resolution Recognizing the Nakba and Palestinian Refugees’ Rights.” Her resolution commemorates the “Nakba” and promotes better education about and understanding of the 74-year-old event. It also rejects “the efforts of Nakba denialists to enlist the US government’s support for their deeply bigoted historical revisionism.”
Much of the historic debate over the “Nakba” concept has been between the Israeli version that suggests most of the Arabs fled on their own, many believing they would return with the victorious Arab armies, and the Arab version that blames the flight on the Israeli army. By now, most legitimate historians agree it was a mix. The fleeing Arabs were intimidated by the advancing Jewish army, and they were also expecting to return victorious. But they didn’t.
The Tlaib resolution also called on the United States to continue to support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), “which provides social services to a large number of the over 7 million Palestinian refugees.” It doesn’t even skip a beat in moving as it does from citing the initial number of refugees as being 800,000 (at least 100,000 more than the maximalist estimate) – to 7 million refugees. It doesn’t even try to explain how one can be a refugee from a country he has never been to. It doesn’t raise the question of what other things can be done for these millions of people other than keeping them in camps where they receive their rations from UNRWA.
Finally, the Tlaib resolution called on the US to “support the implementation of Palestinian refugees’ rights as enshrined in United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” Again, without bothering to explain how there can be “refugees” who never fled from anywhere.
Needless to say, despite hearty endorsements from Jewish Voice for Peace Action (JVP Action), Americans for Justice in Palestine Action, Project48, and the United States Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR), this dog didn’t hunt.
According to the Free Beacon, McCarthy late Tuesday reserved the Capitol Visitor Center space where Tlaib had planned to host Wednesday’s event mourning Israel’s existence. Instead, the speaker will lead a bipartisan celebration of the 75th anniversary of the relationship between the US and Israel.
“It’s wrong for members of Congress to traffic in antisemitic tropes about Israel,” McCarthy told the Free Beacon. “As long as I’m Speaker, we are going to support Israel’s right to self-determination and self-defense, unequivocally and in a bipartisan fashion.”
For the record, the United States was the first country to recognize Israel as an independent state, except it happened on May 14, 1948, not May 10. But you know, sometimes a venue is so popular, ya gotta make your move.
May 14, 1948, Iyar 5, 5708, was the Friday when David Ben Gurion proclaimed the establishment of the Jewish State, and President Harry Truman issued a statement of recognition on the same day. Diplomatic Relations were established fully only the following year, when US Ambassador James Grover McDonald presented his credentials on March 28, 1949.
The Coalition for Jewish Values, a pro-Israel advocacy group with more than 2,000 rabbis, sent a scathing letter to Congress in response to Tlaib’s plan to conduct a ceremony vilifying the Jewish State on Capitol Hill. They wrote: “It is unsurprising but appalling that the featured speaker at this event will be a Member of Congress who describes the only Middle Eastern country to give equality and voting rights to both Jews and Arabs as ‘apartheid,’ We hope that our request will meet with your favorable response and that you will condemn this event in the strongest terms as soon as possible.”