Jewish self-determination is not a ‘nakba’

Israeli-Americans deserve the opportunity to connect with their heritage, free from bigotry and bias.

Bernie Sanders in Boston on Feb. 29, 2020. Credit: Lauryn Allen/Shutterstock.
Bernie Sanders in Boston on Feb. 29, 2020. Credit: Lauryn Allen/Shutterstock.
Robert Mayer
Robert Mayer

U.S. Congress serves as a crucial platform for defending our values and promoting robust discussions on national and international issues. It is disconcerting when elected officials like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) exploit this platform to promote a false narrative by hosting events that commemorate the so-called Palestinian nakba, completely distorting history and disregarding facts about the establishment of the modern State of Israel.

Let us remember the nakba for what it truly was: a catastrophic result of the genocidal attempt on the lives of Jews in Israel in 1948, a war instigated by the surrounding Arab countries and Palestinian Arabs.

By hosting this event, Sanders and Tlaib not only fail to acknowledge historical facts but also perpetuate a narrative that undermines the Jewish people’s right to self-determination and challenges the legitimacy of the State of Israel. This goes beyond differences of opinion. It breaches the fundamental principles of democratic values that America upholds.

While Israel was being barraged by incessant rocket attacks from Palestinian terrorists that jeopardized innocent lives, the timing of this event was not only tone-deaf but also offensive. Such rhetoric does not foster peace or reconciliation. Instead, it fuels tensions and validates acts of terror against Israel.

While Sanders and Tlaib are entitled to criticize Israeli policies, it crosses a significant line when they question the very existence of the State of Israel. The establishment of Israel in 1948 was a response to centuries of longing, urgent necessity and the Holocaust’s unspeakable horrors. Dismissing the creation of Israel as a “catastrophe” is not only factually incorrect but morally reprehensible.

Equally concerning about the Sanders-Tlaib event is the involvement of U.S.-based organizations known for glorifying terrorism against Israel and promoting antisemitic messages. Our elected officials should distance themselves from such entities instead of providing them with a platform. We call on our Senate leaders to take a resolute stance against this divisive narrative, reaffirming our commitment to respect, inclusivity and genuine dialogue.

Israel is one of America’s closest allies, contributing significantly to our national security, economy and technological innovation. We must reaffirm our commitment to this alliance and to the Jewish people’s right to self-determination.

In addition, by promoting false narratives about Jewish and Israeli identity and history, this event disregards the rich contributions Israeli-Americans have made to the United States and undermines our rightful place within the American tapestry. We firmly denounce any attempt to erase or misrepresent the Israeli-American community, and we stand committed to defending our truth, culture and heritage from intentional distortions and lies.

Therefore, I believe it is time for Congress to reintroduce a resolution acknowledging Israeli-American culture, heritage and the invaluable contributions of the Israeli-American community to the United States. Israeli-Americans deserve the opportunity to connect with their heritage, free from bigotry and bias.

As we steadfastly reject efforts to delegitimize Israel and condemn acts that deny Jewish history and rights, we contribute to a more stable and just future in the region. Let us firmly denounce divisive rhetoric and instead champion understanding, reconciliation and the pursuit of peace through policies like the Abraham Accords. The United States must stand unwaveringly with our closest ally in the Middle East, affirming the rights of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland.

Robert Mayer is an Israeli-American high-tech entrepreneur and chair of the Israeli-American Civic Action Network (ICAN).

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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