by Hugh Fitzgerald
Will AOC continue to look the other way with Hussein Altamimi?
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a member of the infamous group of four Congresswomen known as the “Squad,” which includes two Muslims — Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, and Ilhan Omar, a Somali-American – and Ayanna Pressley. Tlaib and Omar are consistently, virulently, anti-Israel; Ocasio-Cortez just a tad less so in her public pronouncements. She did not vote “No” with Tlaib and Omar on a bill to provide extra funding to Israel for its Iron Dome anti-missile defense, but after voting “Present,” she proceeded, in a fit of remorse, to have a good cry in Congress about that very vote.
Now it turns out that a recently-hired legislative assistant in her office, one Hussein Altamimi, has made some outrageous and false claims about Israel on Instagram.. Ocasio-Cortez has been asked to discharge him. Robert Spencer discusses the case here, and an additional report on Altamimi’s accusations against Israel, and the call on Ocasio-Cortez to fire him, is here: “ZOA calls on Ocasio-Cortez to fire staffer who called Israel ‘racist European ethnostate,'” JNS, January 7, 2022:
…”Hussain Altamimi has made false, hateful, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel accusations on Instagram,” ZOA national president Morton Klein said in a letter sent to Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday [Jan.5}. He added that Altamimi’s “vitriolic posts are likely to add to the atmosphere of anti-Semitism and hatred that has fueled increasing, frightening, violent attacks on Jews in New York and throughout the United States.”
Fox News reported that Altamimi, who joined Ocasio-Cortez’s office in November, shared on his Instagram story on Dec. 24 a post from an account called “Let’s Talk Palestine,” which falsely accused Israel of “apartheid” and of having a “racial hierarchy.” Altamimi accompanied the post by writing: “Israel is a racist European ethnostate built on stolen land from its indigenous population!”
In his letter to Ocasio-Cortez, Klein insisted that “the racist dictatorship in the area is the Palestinian Authority.”
As he explained, “the Palestinian Authority states that no Jews will be allowed to live in their entity; condemns Arabs to death for selling property to Jews; and pays Arabs’ lifetime pensions to murder Jews and Americans. The P.A. also names schools, streets and sports teams after Jew-killers.”
Klein said the ZOA urges Ocasio-Cortez to fire Altamimi, as well as “publicly condemn these hateful odious remarks” made by him.
Well, let’s see. Hussein Altamimi’s remarks are certainly unpleasant – “hateful” and “odious,” according to Morton Klein – but are they true? Altamimi first posted, with evident approval, a statement he came across at the site “Let’s Talk Palestine,” that accused Israel of being an “apartheid” state and of having a “racial hierarchy.” So forgive us the need to repeat, endlessly, the same rebuttal as we have posted a dozen times before.
In Israel, Arabs sit in the Knesset, serve on the Supreme Court, go abroad as ambassadors for their country. An Arab party, Ra’am, is part of the current governing coalition. The chairman of Israel’s largest bank, Bank Leumi, is an Arab. Jews and Arabs study together in universities, work in the same offices and factories, provide care to Jewish and Arab patients, and receive treatment from Jewish and Arab doctors and nurses, in the same hospitals. Jews and Arabs play on the same sports teams and in the same orchestras. They act together on the stage, on television, and the movies. None of that would be possible in a real “apartheid” state as South Africa was until the 1990s. There is only one difference in the treatment of Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs. Jews must, while Arabs may, serve in the military.
Is there a “racial hierarchy” in Israel? Do Jews lord it over Arabs? Nowhere, and in nothing. There is complete legal equality between Jew and Arab, Muslim and non-Muslim. There are no professions in Israel that Arabs cannot practice, unlike the Palestinians in many Arab lands, such as Lebanon, where they are shut up in camps, and prohibited from practicing dozens of professions.
Altamimi accompanied that post from “Let’s Talk Palestine” by writing in his Instagram: “Israel is a racist European ethnostate built on stolen land from its indigenous population!” Is Israel a “European ethnostate”? This is one of the staples of Palestinian propaganda – that “the Jews” all came to Israel from Europe, and are not indigenous to the Middle East; they have no business laying claim to any part of Israel. But we know that Jews have been living continuously for 3000 years in the Land of Israel; there is extensive archaeological evidence – pottery, coins, scrolls from the Dead Sea, ancient synagogues, mosaics, and so much more – of that Jewish presence. And Jews were not only in Eretz Israel, but spread from there across the Middle East and North Africa and into Europe. The Jews who remained in the Middle East and North Africa are called Mizrahi Jews; there is nothing “European” about them; in 2005 61% of Israeli Jews claimed Mizrahi or part-Mizrahi ancestry.
Less than one-third of Israeli Jews claim Ashkenazi or part-Ashkenazi ancestry, which would link them to Europe. Of course even those Ashkenazi Jews did not originate in Europe; like all Jews, they originated in the Land of Israel; through the centuries some Jewish populations appeared in Europe The only reason for Hussein Altamimi to make his preposterous claim that Israel is a “European ethnostate” is that he wants to deny the indigeneity of the Jews, the claim that they originated in the Land of Israel,, and are not outside invaders who came as European conquerors to the Middle East. There are whole museums of archaeology and anthropology that offer incontrovertible evidence that Altamimi has it wrong. But his narrative depends on the “white, European, colonial-settlers” coming from outside, arriving in Palestine where, in his narrative, the Muslim Arabs have been living for thousands of years, and proceeding to “steal their land.” No one has been able, for obvious reasons, to find any evidence of that Muslim Arab presence before the seventh century A.D., about 2300 years later than the Jews first appeared in the Land of Israel.
Hussein Altamimi claims that “Israel is a racist European ethnostate built on stolen land from its indigenous population!” Which is the indigenous population – the Arabs who came out of Arabia in the seventh century and conquered large swathes of the Middle East and North Africa, or the Jews who since 3000 B.C. had been living uninterruptedly in the Land of Israel? The Jews did not “steal [the Arabs’] land. It was the Jews who were dispossessed of their land by various conquerors – Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman Turk – but who finally, in the 20th century, were encouraged by the ideology of Zionism to return to the Land of Israel, not to “steal land,” but to buy it from Arab and Turkish landowners. The sums the Jews spent in this effort were exorbitant: in 1941, Jews buying scarcely arable land in Mandatory Palestine were paying more to their Arab owners than was then being charged for the richest farmland in the world, in Iowa. The Palestine Mandate, Article 6, calls on the holder of the Mandate, Great Britain, to facilitate Jewish immigration and to encourage “close settlement by Jews on the land.” In addition, “state and waste lands” were to be made available for Jews to settle on. The only time that Israel took land that it did not buy, or inherit as “state and waste land,” was in the immediate aftermath of the 1948 war. Arabs who had left the area, having been encouraged to do so by Arab broadcasts that promised that if they left the places where fighting was taking place in Palestine, they would soon be able to return with the victorious Arab armies. They left, but the “victorious Arab armies” never appeared. Israel saw no reason, since the Arabs who left were clearly not going to return, not to allow Jews to settle on these lands deserted by their owners. The Israelis did not “steal land” but put to use land that had been permanently abandoned. There is a difference.
Hussain Altamimi has made a series of damning charges. He claims that Israel is an “apartheid” state, but provides no evidence for this preposterous claim, for there is none. He insists there is a “racial hierarchy” in Israel, but again, offers no evidence for Jews lording It over, whether in law or in custom, Israeli Arabs. He calls Israel a “European ethnostate,” though almost two-thirds of Israel’s Jews are Mizrahis, descended from people who never left the Middle East and North Africa. He charges Israel with “stealing” land from the Arabs, ignoring the fact that all the land the Zionists acquired before the 1948 war was bought at very high prices from Arab and Turkish landowners. The land left by Arabs who fled just before, during, and after that war, was taken by the State of Israel and settled on by Jews. Those same Jews in many instances had fled for their lives from Arab lands, leaving them bereft of tens of billions of dollars in property. Israel put t use the land abandoned by Arabs. What else should Israel have done? Left those lands forever empty?
Hussain Altamimi has made a series of accusations against the Jewish state that are false. He has maligned the State of Israel. What does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez plan to do? Will she shut her ears to those who have complained about Altamimi, or will she do the right thing, and look into his claims, and If she finds them to be false, say so publicly? Or will she remain silent, which will be interpreted as constituting an endorsement of his statements as true? The only honorable course for her is to investigate the truth or falsehood of his remarks, and when she finds them — as she surely will — to be false, both to denounce Hussain Altamimi’s lies, and to let him go. He won’t remain unemployed for long. Even now they are ready to take him on board as a “legislative liaison with Congress” at that samaritan institution, CAIR, where Israel-bashing is never out of style.