Israel bars entry for Muslim U.S. Reps. Omar, Tlaib; draws backlash


Omar and Tlaib publicly announced support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to cut off economic support for Israel to end the so-called occupation. In 2017 it implemented a law that denies visas to BDS supporters.

No sooner had Rashida Tlaib been sworn in as a member of the 116th US Congress last January, than the daughter of Palestinian immigrants caught flak for her off-color cry to impeach Donald Trump.

The decision to ban the two Muslim lawmakers followed a rare intervention by President Trump, who tweeted on Thursday that approving their visit would "show great weakness".

Trump said "it would show great weakness" for Israeli officials to welcome them. He went on to call the two congresswomen "a disgrace". The two are outspoken critics of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and support the Palestinian-led worldwide movement boycotting Israel.

Controversial Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib slammed the Israeli government Friday; blaming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "oppressive and racist" policies hours after she was denied entry into the country. A close freshman colleague of the two lawmakers, Ayanna Pressley of MA, said Israel's move is "bigoted, short sighted and cruel". "We won't allow those who deny our right to exist in this world to enter Israel".

A day after Israel announced it was banning Reps. Pivoting to domestic politics, Trump added: "Minnesota and MI will have a hard time putting them back in office".

The move elicited a strong backlash from individuals in both parties.

It charges that Omar and Tlaib "repeatedly" have engaged in anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Omar has been criticized for statements critical of Israel, including a 2012 tweet referring to the country's "evil doings" and a tweet this year saying that support for Israel is all about money.

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"If I would be convinced that they came to listen and learn in how this country works, how Jerusalem works, how our political system works", Barkat told Israeli news channel i24NEWS on Tuesday, "I would consider it. convincing people that (Israel's) path is the right path is the high road I think we should take".

"The decision has been made; the decision is not to allow them to enter", Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said.

"Someone espousing these bigoted views should not have access to classified information or sit on congressional committees such as the Foreign Affairs Committee".

Halie Sofier, the executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, argued that the decision is "counterproductive and plays into President Trump's goal of politicizing support for Israel". "It's their lifeblood. Before they became elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, these women grew up hating Jews".

He cited the actions and words of Omar and Tlaib. He said their itinerary for the planned trip, which was to have begun on Sunday, listed their destination as Palestine, not Israel, and included no meetings with Israeli officials.

Both are members of their party's progressive wing - along with Reps.

Tlaib and Omar were to have traveled under the auspices of the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy, or MIFTAH, a Ramallah-based nongovernmental organization promoting an independent Palestinian state. The phrase comes from a song with the same name by Puff Daddy, who sang about money and used the word Hebrews in one version of the song.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the move "deeply disappointing", and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., who lobbied Israeli officials on Wednesday to allow the lawmakers to make a trip, called it "outrageous". The Interior Ministry released a letter purportedly signed by Tlaib in which she promised not to advocate boycotts during her visit.