Jewish Democratic congressman visiting W. Bank blasts treatment of Palestinians

Andy Levin says he was enraged at sight of water supply to illegal Jewish outpost, as Palestinian villagers remain without access

Rep.-elect Andy Levin, D-Mich, arrives for member-elect briefings on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Rep.-elect Andy Levin, D-Mich, arrives for member-elect briefings on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

A Democratic congressman from Michigan has criticized Israel for its treatment of Palestinians following a tour of the West Bank earlier this week.

Rep. Andy Levin said Wednesday he was enraged by the situation in Susya, where Palestinian villagers are denied water access, while Jewish settlers nearby are granted government-supplied amenities.

“Yesterday, I traveled to the southern West Bank, including the Palestinian village of Susya, which the Israeli government has destroyed twice and currently denies access to water,” he wrote. “Yet we watched the government utility, right before our eyes, lay in pipes right across the village’s land to deliver tap water to an illegal Israeli outpost nearby.” He did not name the outpost.

Israel has several times in the past demolished Palestinian buildings in Susya, saying they were built without permits.

“It was simply incredible. As angry as the situation made me, the resilience of the Palestinian villagers left an even stronger impression,” wrote Levin, a former synagogue president and chair of the steering committee of Detroit Jews for Justice.

In August, Levin was among numerous members of Congress to condemn Israel’s decision to ban congresswomen Rashida Tlaib, also a representative from Michigan, and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota from visiting Israel. The two left-wing Democrats ,who have voiced support for a boycott of Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians, planned a visit in August that would have taken them to areas claimed by the Palestinians for a future state.

They became the first members of the US Congress to be banned by Israel, with US President Donald Trump, a Republican, saying the Jewish state would show “great weakness” if it let them in. Tlaib, whose family is from the West Bank, was later offered entry for a private visit, but declined.

“This is a completely misguided decision that reeks of political motivation,” Levin said at the time.

“This decision pulls at the seams of our two countries’ important relationship and endangers Israel by attempting to politicize American support for the country. The Israeli government should reject the bigoted, wedge-driving political tactics of President Trump, who recently said that both congresswomen should ‘go back’ to their countries, and grant Reps. Tlaib and Omar entry into the country to do their jobs,” he said.

In June, Levin tweeted that he supports “a Jewish, democratic Israel, a two-state solution and Palestinian human rights. I was an anti-apartheid activist; Israel is not an apartheid state.”

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