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Alternate Universe or Inside Bet? Gohmert and Weiner on the Middle East

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Media Matters Action Network highlighted a very interesting C-SPAN video of Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) complaining about illegal Palestinian settlement expansion on Israeli lands. Yes, you read that correctly, and it can only be described as the most perfect inversion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Congressman Gohmert, who gained notoriety last month when CNN's Anderson Cooper grilled him about the preposterous "terror babies" allegation, said the following,

I've been greatly concerned with the hypocrisy of this administration telling Israel, 'just let Palestinians build illegal settlements and take over areas that are not theirs. Just let 'em take over.' And I thought, 'how hypocritical for our U.S. administration to tell Israel, just let people take over areas of your country they're not authorized to takeover, cause we would never allow that here in the U.S.' Which brings me to the only good thing about violent illegal alien drug smugglers taking over American soil: at least we're not hypocritical anymore when we tell Israel just to let people take over land that's not theirs. Because now this administration can say, 'look, Israel, we're doing it here. We're letting people take over American soil that they shouldn't. So you can do it, too.'

This may be a fascinating account of events taking place on Gliese 581g, but back on planet earth, it is not Palestinians who are building illegal settlements on Israeli lands, it is Israel which is building illegal settlements on Palestinian lands. That the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem are Palestinian territories which Israel illegally occupies is a fact beyond dispute, confirmed by the International Court of Justice and a mountain of UN Security Council Resolutions. The fact that Israel's illegal settlement expansion is a (if not "the") core impediment to the two-state solution is also obvious to informed observers, as that settlement expansion has been condemned by successive American administrations (Republican and Democratic) as well as the UN Security Council. Furthermore, Human Rights organizations like Amnesty International also highlight Israel's practice of granting permits for Israelis to build illegal settlements while systematically denying permits for Palestinians to build on their own land. Even the slightest interest in a cursory review of the basic facts would have led Gohmert to realize how profoundly backward his statement was.

This is by no means a partisan problem. On the other side of the isle, we at the Arab American Institute recently highlighted Congressman Anthony Weiner's (D-NY) extraordinary departure from reality when he declared that "Israel does not any longer occupy the West Bank or Gaza;" a position that not even the Israeli government itself proclaims. We also highlighted the remarkable twist of Weiner agreeing with Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) that the continuation of the occupation was the Palestinians' fault, despite having denied the existence of the occupation only a few minutes before. In short, Congressman Weiner has no problem contradicting his own passionately-argued position in one sitting, so long as the new position allocates blame and accolades to the 'right' predetermined parties.

If it turns out that there is an inside bet in which members of Congress are competing to see who dares to make the most absurd statement on the floor of the House, the statements we've heard on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict this year would suddenly make complete sense.