MSNBC anchor and correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin joined MSNBC Live host Ali Velshi on Friday to chat about Israel's decision to not allow Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar into the country and Tlaib turning down a humanitarian exception to visit her grandmother. Throughout the segment, Mohyeldin made multiple eyebrow-raising statements including calling Bernie Sanders a centrist on the issue and insisting that those who support the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement simply have different tactics for achieving peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Velshi reported that Sanders has threatened to cut off American aid to Israel should he be elected president if Israel does not allow (Democrat) members of Congress into their country. Mohyeldin, then advanced the Democratic talking point that it has been President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu that have undermined the U.S.-Israeli alliance. He said it was significant that a presidential candidate would put aid to Israel on the table, especially considering, "he is [in the] center on this issue."
Velshi and Mohyeldin's evidence that Sanders is a centrist on the issue was based solely on the fact that Sanders does not support BDS. If they truly believe that, then Democrats and the media truly do live in an echo chamber for the Israeli equivalent of the Democratic Party, the Labor Party, hasn't held power in nearly 20 years and Netanyahu's main political threat at the moment comes from people running to his right on security matters. Nobody in the media or the Democratic Party has has asked why Israelis view their preferred policies as discredited, but Mohyeldin was not finished making outrageous assertions.
Mohyeldin then declared that people support BDS because, "the peace process hasn’t worked since 1993. We are not there. So let's try something new.” That assertion ignores all history from the 1917 Balfour Declaration up through 1947 where the U.N. offered Palestinian Arabs their own state and they turned it down and other historical events that do not conveniently fit the narrative. It also ignores that even most Democrats consider BDS to be anti-Semitic, so describing it as just a disagreement over tactics is profoundly ignorant of what BDS actually is. Mohyeldin is also hypocritical in his assertion, because in April he dismissed the Trump Administration's own attempts to think outside the box on this issue, calling any proposal "dead on arrival."
Here is a transcript for the August 16 show:
MSNBC Live with Velshi and Ruhle
1:12 PM ET
ALI VELSHI: Bernie Sanders in saying this touches a little bit of a third rail here, because the idea that America sends aid to Israel is baked to the equation. He’s saying, “Hey, make a choice. You want American money, you got to let American lawmakers in”
AYMAN MOHYELDIN: Yeah, it is hard to imagine and for such a long time, American congressional support for Israel’s security has been bipartisan. That is what people who are trying to ring this alarm bell about what the Prime Minister of Israel has done and what President Trump has done, is that they politicized the issue of the American-Israel so-called special relationship. You now have Democratic leaders from the Democratic Party coming out and saying this is wrong, this is a bad move, this jeopardizes the relationship. Now you have a presidential contender and he is center on this issue. Let’s keep in mind--
VELSHI: He does not support BDS.
MOHYELDIN: Exactly, he does not support BDS
VELSHI: This is the boycott, divestment, sanctions regime that Israel is so bothered by that they used as a base for not letting these two members of Congress in.
MOHYELDIN: Exactly, he very much supports a two-state solution, he does not support a one state solution. That is another controversial issue among those American politicians who do support that. It is interesting to see where Bernie Sanders fits on this, because as I mentioned he's considered a centrist on this topic of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and how it should be resolved, but the fact that he is coming out and saying to the Israelis “Look, you don't want to allow our congressmen to come in and see what’s happening on the ground, what are you hiding? You cannot also take our money from us from taxpayer dollars.
VELSHI: What's the argument that there was a congressional delegation there just last week. Why did these two congresswomen not go on that?
MOHYELDIN: Well that one was sponsored by AIPAC and essentially it is coordinated with the Israeli government. So, when you are on the ground, you are seeing an Israeli perspective of what's happening there and it’s an important fact-finding mission for those who want to see the Israeli perspective and the Israeli narrative and they also go see the Palestinian leadership, but it fits into the framework of what the Palestinian peace process or the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has been in place for years which is they're working towards a two-state solution. Everything is designed to reinforce that policy. What people who have come to this recently have tried to do is say this hasn’t been working. That's the core of what BDS has been trying to do, among other things, but they’re saying “Look, the two-state solution, the peace process hasn’t worked since 1993. We are not there. So let's try something new” and so, young and freshman congresswomen like Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are subscribing to that notion to say “Let’s see what’s different” and so they wanted to go on their own congressional delegation trip, not sponsored by AIPAC. They weren’t meeting with Palestinian politicians or officials, they weren’t meeting with Israeli politicians or officials. They just want to meet with human rights organizations and NGOs on both sides to try to see if there is a new approach to this. Obviously, the Israelis say they're going to be there to promote BDS, we can't have that.
MOHYELDIN: There long term version to what the solution should be is not something anybody really agrees to, that is from the Israeli perspective and so that’s where we find ourselves in this situation.