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The Malevolent Congresswoman Betty McCollum

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Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum is not a member of the “Squad,” nor is she a Muslim like Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, but she is as obsessively anti-Israel as either of them, and has been denouncing the Jewish state for much longer than Omar and Tlaib. Her deep hostility toward the Jewish state deserves to be better known.

A report on the malevolent Betty McCollum is here: “Media Ignores Pro-BDS Congresswoman’s Checkered History on Israel,” by Rachel O’Donoghue, Algemeiner, January 12, 2022:

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D) is not the most high-profile of politicians. Serving as the representative for Minnesota’s 4th Congressional District since 2001, her political endeavors are arguably overshadowed by fellow Twin Cities Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

But on Israel, McCollum and Omar have much in common: For example, both have falsely accused the Jewish state of maintaining a system of “apartheid” that systematically dehumanizes Palestinians.

Like all those who accuse Israel of practicing “apartheid,” Betty McCollum is determined to ignore Israel’s reality. She either does not know, or knows but does not care, that Arabs in Israel sit in the Knesset, serve on the Supreme Court, go abroad as ambassadors. The chairman of Israel’s largest bank, Bank Leumi, is an Arab. Jews and Arabs attend the same universities, work in the same offices and factories, provide care as doctors and nurses together, are treated in the same hospitals, play on the same sports teams and on the same orchestras. The only difference is that Jews must, while Arabs may, serve in the Israeli military. None of that matters to Betty McCollum. She will keep on accusing Israel of enforcing a system of apartheid till the cows come home.

Possibly owing to the fact that McCollum has been in politics much longer than Omar, who first entered office in 2019, the former’s anti-Israel voting record is much longer than the latter. An article published by a local news outlet, the MinnPost, suggests that the Democrat may even be the most outspoken detractor of the Jewish state in politics, labeling her “Israel’s staunchest critic in Congress.”

“Israel’s staunchest critic” is one way, a far too favorable way, to describe Betty McCollum. Ordinarily we admire someone’s staunchness,” irrespective of what that someone is being “staunch” about. In McCollum’s case, it would be more fitting to call her “Israel’s most obsessive critic” in Congress.

But this is an assessment that does not go far enough when considering McCollum’s long career, one characterized by smearing, undermining, and attacking Israel — something American news outlet the Intercept downplayed this week as mere “advocacy on behalf of Palestinians.”

In October 2021, for example, McCollum introduced a House resolution that condemned Israel over the designation of six Palestinian NGOs as terror groups. Describing them as “courageous” organizations that are “defending the human rights of a vulnerable and at-risk Palestinian population living under Israeli military occupation,” her document reviles the action of the Jewish state as “a repressive act designed to criminalize and persecute important Palestinian human rights organizations.”

McCollum ignore the considerable evidence that Israel produced to back up its claim that those six NGOs (out of hundreds of NGOs working in Israel undisturbed) had dozens of members who had at some point worked with the terror group PFLP, and in many cases, there were Palestinians who worked for one of those six NGOs and the PFLP at the same time.

However, as HonestReporting has repeatedly highlighted, there is no shortage of publicly-available information that confirms links between the outlawed groups and the US-designated terrorist organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Here’s a very small sample of the evidence Israel presented that connected the personnel working for the six NGOs and the PFLP:

  • An investigation commissioned by the United States Agency of International Development (USAID) describes the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC) as the “women’s organization” of the PFLP.
  • The same USAID commissioned investigation describes the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) as being the agricultural arm of the PFLP.
  • On August 23, 2019, two UAWC employees carried out a particularly brutal terror attack in which they injured Rabbi Eitan Shnerb (46) and his son, Dvir (19), and murdered his daughter, Rina (17). The UAWC employees were closely linked to the PFLP.
  • On August 30, 2020, the PFLP released a statement confirming that former UAWC director, Samer Arbid, is also a PFLP commander and was involved in the terror attack that murdered Rina Shnerb.
  • In 2020, the government of the Netherlands, one of UAWC’s European sponsors, admitted that part of a Dutch aid package was used to pay the salaries of two UAWC employees who were charged with murdering Rina Shnerb.
  • The United Nations refused the Addameer Rights Group’s request for Special Consultative Status due to the group’s relationship to the PFLP.
  • In May 2018, Visa, Mastercard, and American Express shut down online credit card donations to Al-Haq due to the group’s ties to the PFLP. In fact, the group was founded by PFLP members

In addition to the above, many of the figures in these organizations have been arrested for acts of terror, in some cases multiple times, and numerous cases were ruled upon by Israel’s independent judiciary.

The PFLP did not deny its affiliations to the various NGOs. To the contrary, a spokesman for the terror group, Kayed al-Ghoul, stated that Palestinians are “proud of the affiliation of any of their sons with any national faction that resists the occupation, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.”

Furthermore, an independent audit commissioned by the Dutch government, which had generously donated to one of the Palestinian NGOs, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), confirmed extensive links between the UAWC and PFLP — an assessment that somewhat undermines the McCollum-backed resolution that erroneously lauds the groups as human rights defenders.

In April of last year, McCollum sponsored a bill that sought to place restrictions on US aid going towards a variety of Israeli military operations. According to the Israeli watchdog group NGO Monitor, the text was rife with distortions and false allegations, including its heavy reliance on accusations levied by the Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P), an organization with ties to the PFLP and whose board members have “utilized social media to glorify terrorists who murdered Israeli civilians, including a baby.”

In a letter circulated among her House colleagues to drum up support for the bill, McCollum accused Jerusalem of “aggressively undermining any prospects for a Palestinian state” — a statement that is a staggering departure from the truth, considering the number of times the Palestinian leadership has rejected proposals that would have seen the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

Betty McCollum apparently wants everyone to forget about the offers for a state that the Arabs turned down, ever since they refused the proposed Partition of Palestine in 1947. More recently, in 2000 Ehud Barak offered Yassir Arafat the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state on some 92% of the West Bank and 100% of the Gaza Strip, along with some territorial compensation for the Palestinians from pre-1967 Israeli territory; the dismantling of most of the settlements and the concentration of the bulk of the settlers inside the 8% of the West Bank to be annexed by Israel; the establishment of the Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem, in which some Arab neighborhoods would become sovereign Palestinian territory and others would enjoy “functional autonomy”; Palestinian sovereignty over half the Old City of Jerusalem (the Muslim and Christian quarters) and “custodianship,” though not sovereignty, over the Temple Mount; a return of refugees to the prospective Palestinian state though with no “right of return” to Israel proper; and the organization by the international community of a massive aid program to facilitate the refugees’ rehabilitation. Arafat would not even take this generous proposal as a basis for negotiations – he simply walked out.

In 2008, Ehud Olmert made an even more generous offer to Mahmoud Abbas. According to this offer, Israel would retain 6.3 percent of the West Bank territory in order to keep control of major Jewish settlements. The Palestinians would be compensated with Israeli land equivalent to 5.8 percent of the West Bank, along with a link to the Gaza Strip — another territory meant to be part of Palestine.Olmert also offered to withdraw from Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem and place the Old City, home to Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy sites, under international control. Like Arafat before him, would not even discuss the offer, but turned on his heels and walked out. And since then Abbas has refused to meet with Israelis to discuss a peace agreement.

Yet in a letter to her House colleagues, in which she was attempting to drum up support for her bill to limit military aid to Israel, McColllum insisted that it was Israel that was “aggressively undermining any prospects for a Palestinian state” and not the Palestinians themselves, who had turned down flat all offers made by Israel for a Palestinian state.

She was also one of just a handful of legislators to vote against a non-binding resolution opposing the Boycott, Divestment ,and Sanctions (BDS) movement that seeks to delegitimize and eventually dismantle the world’s only Jewish state. The motion, which was passed by a margin of 398-17, pointed out that the BDS movement “undermines the possibility for a negotiated solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by “demanding concessions of one party alone and encouraging the Palestinians to reject negotiations in favor of international pressure.”

Earlier on in her career, McCollum was among the few members of Congress to vote against the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, co-sponsored by then-Senator Joe Biden, which came in response to Hamas’ electoral victory in the Gaza Strip.

Aimed at curbing the influence of the US-designated terror group and ensuring that American funds do not reach it, the bill set out a number of caveats for the Palestinian Authority (PA) to receive financial assistance, including ensuring that “no ministry, agency, or instrumentality of the Palestinian Authority is effectively controlled by Hamas.”

Betty McCollum has yet to meet a Palestinian terror group she did not support. She was one of a handful of Representatives voting against a bill that would ensure that American aid given to the PA would not end up in the pockets of Hamas. She sees nothing wrong with Hamas; it’s fighting to “free Palestine.”

Another caveat conditioned funding on the PA acknowledging Israel’s right to exist. Despite the sensible aims advanced by the legislation, McCollum refused to support it on the grounds that it “would place so many restraints on aid to the Palestinian people.”

McCollum also refused to support a measure that conditioned aid to the PA on its recognition of Israel’s right to exist. McCollum felt that requirement would “place so many restraints on aid to the Palestinians,” when it was the very least that could have been expected of the PA.

However, a casual reader would be none the wiser about McCollum’s extreme positions on Israel if they were reading The Intercept article published on January 10, where the American non-profit news organization describes her political positions on the Jewish state thus:

McCollum has been a reliable vote for House Democrats and a leader on the question of Palestinian rights, but she otherwise has largely kept a low profile and declined to join the Congressional Progressive Caucus. In an interview, [Minnesota Primary Challenger Amane Badhasso] said she would raise few if any substantive objections to McCollum’s voting record. Badhasso said that she has long applauded McCollum’s advocacy on behalf of Palestinians but that the representative hadn’t done enough broadly. ‘I’m not challenging her on the basis of that,’ she said. ‘There’s so much more that we need to do. We can’t just be a champion on one issue.’…

So her primary challenger, Amane Badhasso, is perfectly happy with McCollum’s anti-Israel views but simply thinks she has become too obsessive about it, and that gets in the way of dealing with other matters important to constituents: “There’s so much more that we need to do We can’t just be a champion on one issue.”

 McCollum has introduced a bill that accused Israel of mistreating Palestinian minors, but the only mistreating of those young Palestinians that is going on is a result o Hamas’ placing weapons and rocket launchers inside kindergartens and schools in Gaza, thereby endangering children who, despite the IDF’s best efforts at warning them, may not always be able to flee in time from Israeli attacks on those weapons storehouses. In those many marches to Israel’s security fence with Gaza – collectively known as the Great March of Return, Hamas uses children, placing them in the front rank of the marchers, clearly hoping that some of them will be harmed or killed in the ensuing melee, where the area is enveloped in smoke from the tires the Palestinians set on fire, and from the tear gas the IDF uses in its attempt to halt the marchers.

In McCollum’s view, AIPAC has become a “hate group” because it investigated her words and deeds, and those of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, and then presented its findings which, AIPAC claimed, would lead reasonable people to describe the three of them as “antisemitic.”

McCollum is interested in maligning, and denying aid of all kinds to, the Jewish state. She is not interested in the wellbeing of the Palestinians. If she were, she could have demanded publicly that the massive theft by two Hamas leaders, Mousa Abu Marzouk and Khaled Meshaal, of at least $2.5 billion apiece, be investigated “for the sake of the impoverished Palestinians in Gaza whose aid money has been stolen by Hamas leaders.” She might have called on Congress to halt all financial aid to the P.A. until Mahmoud Abbas returned to the PA’s coffers the $400 to $600 million he and his two sons Tarek and Yasser have amassed. If she cared about the Palestinians, she would have introduced a bill to push for free elections, beginning with the P.A. in the West Bank. As a condition of receiving aid the P.A.’s head, Mahmoud Abbas — now in the 17th year of his four-year term as President — would be required to hold both parliamentary and presidential elections, as he had promised at the beginning of 2021 would be done, but then cancelled those elections a few months later when he got the results of opinion polls that showed he would lose badly.

But Betty McCollum will do none of those things. She’s not out to help real Palestinians, but only to use them as a club with which to beat the illegitimate colonial-settler state of Israel and deny it the aid it needs to defend itself. Pay attention to sweet-faced Betty McCollum. She’s as much a menace as Rashida Tlaib or Ilhan Omar.

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