Who are members of ‘The Squad’ and why are they bad for Israel?

US Reps. Tlaib, Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley (left to right) (Photo: screenshot Youtube)

Recently elected United States Rep. Rashida Tlaib intends to visit her extended family in August … in Palestine. Tlaib’s visit is part of a mission consisting of a few congresswomen who have carved out a new anti-Semitic and anti-Israel niche for themselves that is unprecedented in American politics. 

Tlaib, whose parents are from a village near Ramallah, and her compadres had to be granted special permission to enter Israel. Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., said “out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel.” 

Under a recently passed law, Israel can bar supporters of the BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) movement and anti-Israel activists entry into Israel. That was actually a consideration with Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. 

Tlaib and Omar along with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts have recently been dubbed “The Squad” in the American political landscape. They are all young, tight-knit congressional freshmen tied together by their progressive and left-wing politics.

But perhaps more apt was Fox commentator Laura Ingraham’s description: the four horsewomen of the apocalypse.

Even U.S. President Donald Trump stirred up some controversy when he accused the four of hating America and Israel and demanding they should apologize to both countries.

American politics has always been divided between left and right-wing viewpoints, however both Republicans and Democrats have long united on the subject of Israel. American support of Israel has had its ups and downs, but in general the United States has always been a staunch ally of the Jewish state. 

These young politicians, however, are products of American universities where Palestinians activists have strong influence and support for Israel is being marginalized. Analysts are concerned that perhaps “the squad” represents a new wave of up and coming politicians with a flare for anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel. 

When Tlaib was sworn in to Congress, she draped herself not in an American flag but in a Palestinian flag. She recently accused the Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of human rights violations and defended the BDS movement.

“All around college campuses, Jewish, Muslim and Hindus are pushing back against the racist policies in Israel, because they see the human rights violations of children being detained, the fact that my grandmother who lives in the West Bank does not have equality, does not have freedom of travel,” Tlaib told CNN. “She is someone who is right now under occupation and is feeling less than.”

Tlaib also voted against a resolution that opposes boycotts of Israel. 

“I cannot stand by and watch this attack on our freedom of speech and the right to boycott the racist policies of the government and the State of Israel,” she told the House.  

She added: “Americans boycotted Nazi Germany in response to dehumanization, imprisonment, and genocide of Jewish people.” 

For her part, Omar also introduced a resolution of her own that subtly supported BDS without mentioning Israel, but did use the Nazi Germany comparison.

“Whereas Americans of conscience have a proud history of participating in boycotts to advocate for human rights abroad, including … boycotting Nazi Germany from March 1933 to October 1941 in response to the dehumanization of the Jewish people in the lead-up to the Holocaust,” the resolution read.

Omar told the Arabic Al-Monitor news site that the resolution “is an opportunity for us to explain why it is we support a nonviolent movement, which is the BDS movement.”

The Muslim congresswoman has posted several anti-Semitic tropes on Twitter over the years, implying that Jews are motivated by money and that Israel controls the U.S. congress and the world: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” She later said she does not regret criticizing Israel. 

Omar was also the main speaker at a fund-raising event for the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization that was named as a co-conspirator in a major Hamas terror-funding incident.

While Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley’s views on Israel are less known, the former has the creator of The Young Turks working on her staff and voted for allowing boycotts under the guise of “free speech.”  

Under Trump, America-Israel relations have reached a zenith as the president has recognized Jerusalem and Israel’s capital and moved the U.S. embassy there, among other positive steps. But one has to wonder whether the next generation of American politicians are on track to endanger America’s strong ties with Israel — and what that will mean for the Jewish state.