Protesters have criticized the executive order suspending immigration from six predominantly Muslim countries by US President Donald Trump but remain silent on a similar, wider spread, permanent ban targeting predominantly Muslim and Christian Arabs adopted by Israel.
It is that hypocrisy that I believe is the driving force behind the flawed protest movement in America that is driven not by principle but by pure politics.
The revised executive order is temporary and is only intended to be enforced for 90 days beginning on March 16. It impacts immigrants from Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Iran. The previous order, which was challenged by the US court system, included Iraq.
This week, Israel’s government adopted a law that bans anyone who supports a boycott of Israel or a boycott of the illegal Jewish-only settlements in the Occupied West Bank and Occupied East Jerusalem. The Israeli anti-boycott law targets predominantly Muslim activists who support justice, civil rights and democracy.
While Trump’s temporary suspension has received widespread condemnation over its alleged religious and racist discriminatory nature, Israel’s permanent ban targeting predominantly Muslim activists has been met with total silence.
Two civil rights organizations in Israel, Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and B’Tselem, have openly condemned the law as a violation of the civil rights of Christians, Muslims and Jews.
The Israeli Knesset voted on March 6 to approve the bill banning the entry of any foreign nationals and any Palestinians from the West Bank if they have publicly expressed support for any form of a boycott against Israel or its illegal settlements which have been roundly denounced internationally as violation of fundamental international laws.
Israel’s security apparatus monitors social media, including Facebook, to censor and identify anyone who criticizes Israel or expresses support for the boycott effort or engages in rhetoric or incitement.
In its criticism, Adalah declared: “This law violates the most basic tenets of democracy by making political opinions a consideration that may prevent non-citizens from entering Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). Those seeking to enter the country most certainly need not align their political positions with those of the current Israeli government in regards to the occupation.”
The impact on civilian families would be horrendous, Adalah officials predicted, adding, “this law is also expected to pose a particularly serious blow to countless Palestinian families living in Israel and in East Jerusalem, whose members hold temporary residency status or a temporary military-issued permit. These individuals will now be vulnerable to a revocation of their status and permits based upon their political opinions.”
Israel’s law is draconian compared to the Trump executive order and yet the same people denouncing Trump are silent on Israel.
Israel’s new law declares: “No visa and residency permit of any type will be given to a person who is not an Israeli citizen or does not have a permit for permanent residency in the State of Israel if he, (or) the organization or entity for which he works, has knowingly issued a public call to impose a boycott on the State of Israel, as defined in the Preventing Harm to the State of Israel through Boycott Law, 5771-2011, or has committed to participate in such a boycott.”
The 2011 Boycott Law states that it applies to any boycott against Israel and against the territories under its control, such as the occupied West Bank and Occupied Jerusalem.
So far, more than 19 American states have approved laws that predominantly punish Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians who engage in boycotts of Israel, even though a boycott is a form of protest that has a long tradition of being accepted in American culture and democracy.
The Israeli move is in fact supported by many anti-Trump protesters and elected officials, including New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who recently returned from a trip to Israel where he condemned Palestinian rights and declared that Israel would always be New York’s priority.
Cuomo is only one of hundreds of American politicians who have attacked Trump’s executive order but have remained silent or even openly supported Israeli policies.
Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who has been leading the attacks against Trump’s order, was silent when a state agency in Illinois named several companies barred from doing business with the state for boycotting Israel or its settlements last year.
Durbin and Cuomo are not alone in their hypocrisy and the hypocrites are not all Democrats. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a denier of the USS Liberty massacre in 1967, and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have turned their backs on principles by denouncing Trump’s ban but saying nothing about Israel’s policy or the fact the South Carolina was the first state to take action against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
The fact that American politicians like Cuomo and Durbin distinguish between what Trump is doing and what Israel does is clear evidence of the fundamental hypocrisy that drives American politics.
You cannot denounce Trump and be silent on Israel. Unless, of course, the real issue is not civil rights, justice or democracy and is purely about politics.
These Trump critics do not care about Muslim rights. They only care about the politics of using Muslims as today’s preferred protest icon.
*Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian-American former journalist and political columnist. Email him at [email protected]