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In the Jewish/Israel realm and many political talk shops around the world (until Hong Kong, Venezuela or something else serious erupts), the big story is Israel’s sudden reversal and decision to bar entry to two hard-core anti-Israel Members of Congress, Rashida Tlaib (D – MI) and Ilhan Omar (D -MN).
In mainstream media and in liberal Democratic circles (the two are closely linked), Israel is getting battered. Even organizations like AIPAC and the American Jewish Committee, which are generally sympathetic to Israeli perspectives, the criticism is particularly harsh. Prime Minister Netanyahu is being attacked for bowing to Trump’s pressure and agenda, for short-sightedness by endangering long-term American support, and for using this opportunity to bolster his own campaign in the upcoming election rerun. These are reasonable guesses, although not more.
I share some of their concerns — both for long-held philosophical reasons, and pragmatic considerations regarding Israel’s image and ability to win in the soft-power warfare (propaganda) battlefield. I argued for allowing Tlaib and Omar into Israel, despite the media circus and bad PR that they would manufacture, because we should not bar members of the US Congress, and because this would probably be worse on the propaganda front. Indeed, that was the initial decision, before yesterday’s reversal.
My poltiical philosophy is anchored by the parts of my identity as a post-Shoah Jew and liberal (I was raised in California and went to Berkeley as an undergraduate), I view the use of governmental power as a last option, to be applied minimally. (“That government is best which governs least…”) Personal freedom is a central value, as long as it does not encroach on the liberties of others (laws against smoking in public places, enforcing health and public safety standards, and transparency in political funding are necessary). In a wider sense, borders between countries should be open except when security and basic social order are endangered.