Ilhan Omar lays out Israel’s crimes

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Israeli occupation forces and settlers in Hebron’s Shuhada Street in February. Israel has closed the once busy market street to Palestinians since 1994. Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib had planned to visit the occupied West Bank city during a congressional visit banned by Israel this week. Wisam HashlamounAPA images

In a series of Tweets on Friday remarkable for their clarity and honesty, Congresswoman Ilhan Omarhas laid out Israel’s crimes and abuses of Palestinians.

On Thursday, Israel confirmed that it would bar Omar and fellow Democratic lawmaker Rashida Tlaib from traveling on a congressional delegation to Israel and the occupied West Bank.

The information Omar provides will not be new to many readers of this publication. But it is almost unheard of for a member of the United States Congress to use their platform to make it available to an even wider audience.

In an attempt to prove to a mostly shielded American audience the facts of the Israeli occupation, Omar often uses Israeli sources to document Israeli abuses and violations of human rights and international law.

Such sources can be valuable, but one hopes her exceptional courage will also mean she can use more Palestinian sources to document what their occupiers do to them.

Her recommendation that Twitter users follow the human rights group Al-Haq is an excellent start.

“Let’s be clear: the goal of our trip was to witness firsthand what is happening on the ground in Palestine and hear from stakeholders – our job as members of Congress,” Omar begins her series of tweets.

“But since we were unable to fulfill our role as legislators, I am sharing what we would have seen.”

“As many of my colleagues have stated in the last 24 hours, we give Israel more than $3 billion in aid every year,” Omar states. “This is predicated on their being an important ally in the region, and the ‘only democracy’ in the Middle East.”

“Denying visits to duly elected members of Congress is not consistent with being either an ally or a democracy,” she adds. “We should be leveraging that aid to stop the settlements and ensure full rights for Palestinians.”

“The occupation is real,” Omar concludes. “Barring members of Congress from seeing it does not make it go away. We must end it – together.”

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