United States congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar have called Israel’s decision to bar them from entering the country ahead of a planned visit to the occupied West Bank “a sign of weakness” and “an insult to democratic values”.
Tlaib, a 43-year-old Democrat of Palestinian heritage, reacted to the decision by posting a picture on Twitter of her grandmother who lives in the West Bank village of Beit Ur al-Fauqa, accompanied with the message:
“I am who I am because of her. The decision by Israel to bar her granddaughter, a US Congresswoman, is a sign of weakness because the truth of what is happening to Palestinians is frightening.”
This woman right here is my sity. She deserves to live in peace & with human dignity. I am who I am because of her. The decision by Israel to bar her granddaughter, a U.S. Congresswoman, is a sign of weakness b/c the truth of what is happening to Palestinians is frightening. pic.twitter.com/GGcFLiH9N3
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) August 15, 2019
For her part, Omar called Israel’s decision “chilling”, adding, however, that it came as no surprise given the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close ally of US President Donald Trump who earlier on Thursday had called Israel to not let his two compatriots and congresswomen in.
“It is an affront that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, under pressure from President Trump, would deny entry to representatives of the US government. Trump’s Muslim ban is what Israel is implementing, this time against two duly elected Members of Congress,” Omar said, referring to the president’s efforts to prevent people from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.
“Sadly, this is not a surprise given the public positions of Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has consistently resisted peace efforts, restricted the freedom of movement of Palestinians, limited public knowledge of the brutal realities of the occupation and aligned himself with Islamophobes like Donald Trump.”
In an unprecedented move, Israel announced it will bar Democratic Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from entering the country as part of a congressional delegation to the occupied West Bank. #LetThemIn https://t.co/x4o4MUHGa3 pic.twitter.com/qahtD2iiVL
— The IMEU (@theIMEU) August 15, 2019
Earlier on Thursday, Trump had attacked the congresswomen, alleging that they “hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds”.
“It would show great weakness” for Israel to allow them in, he wrote on Twitter, renewing his attacks against the two Democrat politicians.
Last month, the Republican president had again targeted Omar, Tlaib and two other Democratic congresswomen of color with racist attacks, saying the four politicians should “go back” to where they came from.
It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 15, 2019
In response, a defiant Omar said she believed Trump was “fascist”.
In justifying the Israeli government’s decision, Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said the decision to not allow Tlaib and Omar to enter was taken because of “their boycott activities against Israel”.
Tlaib and Omar have voiced support for the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to use non-violent means to pressure Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories, dismantle the separation wall, ensure equality for its Palestinian citizens and implement the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their lands.
It is an affront that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, under pressure from President Trump, would deny entry to representatives of the U.S. government.
My full statement: pic.twitter.com/v00ESmehXT
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) August 15, 2019
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned the move in a statement, saying she was “deeply saddened”.
“Israel’s denial of entry to Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar is a sign of weakness, and beneath the dignity of the great State of Israel. The President’s statements about the Congresswomen are a sign of ignorance and disrespect, and beneath the dignity of the Office of the President.”
Israel’s denial of entry to Congresswomen Tlaib & Omar is beneath the dignity of the great State of #Israel. @realDonaldTrump‘s statements about the Congresswomen are a sign of ignorance & disrespect, & beneath the dignity of the Office of the President. https://t.co/F2E0g0Wj2T
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) August 15, 2019
Echoing Pelosi, US Senator Bernie Sanders said in a tweet:
“Banning Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib from entering Israel and Palestine is a sign of enormous disrespect to these elected leaders, to the United States Congress, and to the principles of democracy.”
Banning Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib from entering Israel and Palestine is a sign of enormous disrespect to these elected leaders, to the United States Congress, and to the principles of democracy. The Israeli government should reverse this decision and allow them in. https://t.co/mvdcmnFBKU
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) August 15, 2019
“The Israeli government should reverse this decision and allow them in,” he added.
US ambassador to Israel David Friedman supported Tel Aviv’s decision in a statement, saying that the “Israel properly has enacted laws to bar entry of BDS activists … [and that it] has every right to protect its borders against those activists in the same manner as it would bar entrants with more conventional weapons,” he said, adding that the planned visit “is nothing more than an effort to fuel the BDS engine.”
(Al Jazeera, PC, Social Media)