Whitmer’s recent visit to Israel sparked controversy among some Arab-American organizations.

By Harry Onickel

It’s been the habit of our local Jewish community to engage in outreach with other communities. And this is a good thing. We should be good neighbors, and it should be part of being an American to interact with all other Americans. Yes, we have our differences, but those differences can and should be put aside. We should be able to interact with every other community as equals. And for the most part we have been able to.

Not everyone accepts Jews as equals though. Some groups expect us to conform to their rules, thereby putting Jews at the bottom of a hierarchy that has no place in a free society.

That was expressed recently when a group of prominent Arab-American organizations and community members held a press conference in which they complained that their community was not consulted on Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s recent visit to Israel.

Whitmer had no need of their “consultation.” They should not be allowed to hold the advancement of Michigan and Michigan businesses hostage based on their irrational hatred of Jewish self-determination in Israel. They would not have asked to be consulted about an official visit to any other country in the world.

One community member “was stunned by Whitmer’s decision to visit Israel after the Muslim community supported Whitmer in 2018.”

What’s stunning is someone thinking that the Muslim community’s support should be based on hating Israel. Pandering to anti-Semitism has no place in American society.

The Dearborn-based American Human Rights Council (AHRC), in their statement on Whitmer’s Israel visit, complained that American politicians’ visits to Israel reflect “the power of the pro-Israel lobby in America.” Not only does this statement reek of anti-Semitism, but it is also completely wrong.

Michigan businesses connect with Israel in order to create opportunities for Americans. Israel is the only Middle Eastern country not mired in dysfunction and hatred that actually builds products and technologies that can benefit Michigan. Rather than helping to bring these benefits to Michigan, these organizations and their leaders wallow in the same hatred that has kept the rest of the Middle East poor and corrupt.

Echoing interviews in Osama Siblani’s Arab American News, the AHRC makes the usual “occupation,” “human rights violations” and “apartheid” charges, while ignoring the real human rights violations and apartheid in the nations surrounding Israel.

While Jewish organizations should continue their outreach, that outreach should not be based on lowering ourselves to meet the demands of people who continue to hate us. There should be no apologizing for Jewish success anywhere in the world, nor should any of us excuse their hatred because we agree on “some things.”

When and if the people protesting Whitmer’s Israel visit decide to put aside their self-
destructive hatred, then it will be time to greet them and work together as Americans.

Harry Onickel is a freelance writer and reading tutor. He is currently writing a history of anti-Semitism for high school students.



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