Last week, US President Donald Trump advised four congresswomen to "go back home" because they "hate" America and can fix the "crime infested" countries from where they or their families migrated. The targets of this "advice" were Democratic Congresswomen Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
Trump made his comments during a "Made in America" event organised outside the White House last Monday. Unlike his predecessors, he used it as a PR opportunity. "These are people who in my opinion hate our country," he told the audience. "All I am saying is, if they are not happy here, they can leave. There will be many people who will be happy." In a series of tweets, he added that the four congresswomen should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."
According to Jonathan A Greenblatt, the CEO and national director of the US Anti-Defamation League, Trump's series of racist tweets relating to these congresswomen "reads as if it was ripped from a white supremacist manifesto."
This was more or less confirmed when Andrew Anglin, the man behind neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer, posted a piece on his website saying, "This is the kind of WHITE NATIONALISM we elected him for." He added that such comments are "what will always be the best way for him to gain support."
Regardless of Trump's racism and the real reasons for his attack on these congresswomen, if Rashida Tlaib accepted his advice and decided to go to her family's homeland in order to "repair" it, is the President of the United States ready to help her in such a mission? Given that her family hails from Palestine, this is unlikely, and suggests that Trump — not for the first time — opened his mouth before engaging his brain.
Tlaib was born in 1976 in Detroit, where her father worked on an assembly line for the Ford Motor Company. Her mother came from the Palestinian village of Beit Ur El Foka, near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah; her father was born in Beit Hanina, a neighbourhood in occupied Jerusalem.
Like millions of Palestinians who have been forced out of their homeland since 1948, Rashida Tlaib would not miss any opportunity to repair the country where her roots lie, but there are a lot of obstacles lying in her way. The main obstacle, of course, is the Zionist State of Israel, which has been receiving full political and economic support from the United States since it was created on Palestinian land in 1948.
The Zionists forced 750,000 Palestinians out of their land during the 1948 Nakba, and declared Israel's "independence". Those Palestinians who avoided the ethnic cleansing became citizens of the nascent state but were subject to military law. Those who sought refuge in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have found themselves, since 1967, living under Israel's military occupation of the territories where Tlaib's parents come from.
Ever since, Israel has ignored international laws and conventions, annexed and colonised more land, and committed what are widely believed to be war crimes and crimes against humanity, the victims of which have all been the indigenous Palestinians. All of this has happened under the full political and media eyes of the world. Such is the influence of the anti-Palestine lobby in Washington and European capitals, though, that Israel is allowed to act with impunity; it quite literally gets away with murder.
Nevertheless, this has not stopped US "Middle East Peace Envoy" Jason Greenblatt from describing Israel as the victim of the conflict with the Palestinians in an interview with PBS. Israel, insists this Greenblatt, has not made any mistakes over the decades since it was created in historic Palestine. Such deceitful nonsense flies in the face of the evidence. Just this week, Israel demolished more than 100 residential apartments in the Sur Baher area of occupied Jerusalem and rendered their Palestinian owners homeless. The ethnic cleansing is continuing.
In the same interview, Jason Greenblatt refused to call the Palestinian territories "occupied"; in his Zionist eyes, they are simply disputed, despite the clear facts about Israel's ongoing displacement of the indigenous population, its destruction of ancient olive trees and farms, and all of the other efforts to erase any evidence of the Palestinian identity and history of the land.
Israel receives over $3 billion in direct foreign aid each year from the US; that's an incredible $10.5 million every day. This is roughly one-fifth of America's entire foreign aid budget. In per capita terms, the US gives each Israeli citizen a direct subsidy worth about $500 per year.
Meanwhile, last year Trump cut aid to the Palestinians completely. The US was the largest donor to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), but this is no longer the case. US charities working in the occupied territories have also had support from their government stopped.
The situation in occupied Palestine is so bad that it requires talented people like Rashida Tlaib and others from around the world to make every effort to "repair" the country. It is definitely not "crime infested" as Trump would have us believe, but it certainly is "totally broken". Trump must know this to be the case. If he helps Tlaib to get her ancestral homeland back on its feet, she might not run for Michigan next time; she could well be representing Ramallah.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.