Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) has criticized Israel’s decision to deny her and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) entry into the country, accusing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of conceding to pressure and insulting “democratic values.”
“It is an affront that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, under pressure from President Trump, would deny entry to representatives of the U.S. government,” Omar said in her statement on Aug. 15.
“Trump’s Muslim ban is what Israel is implementing, this time against two duly elected Members of Congress. Denying entry into Israel not only limits our ability to learn from Israelis, but also to enter the Palestinian territories,” she continued, referring to Trump’s temporary travel ban on Muslim majority countries.
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
Netanyahu said in a statement on Aug. 15 that the country’s Minister of Interior had decided to bar entry to the two congresswomen, who have been outspoken about their disdain toward Israel, stating that their itinerary “reveals that the sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel and increase incitement against it.”
“As a free and vibrant democracy, Israel is open to critics and criticism, with one exception: Israeli law prohibits the entry into Israel of those who call for and work to impose boycotts on Israel, as do other democracies that prohibit the entry of people who seek to harm the country,” Netanyahu wrote in the statement.
Omar and Tlaib, the only Muslim members in Congress, have been accused of perpetuating antisemitic narratives—saying the country is “occupying” Palestine—and support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement aimed at cutting off money for Israel.
In her statement, Omar said the decision was not a surprise due to Netanyahu’s past comments. She accused him of resisting “peace efforts,” restricting “the freedom of movement of Palestinians,” limiting “public knowledge of the brutal realities of the occupation,” and aligning “himself with Donald Trump.”
She added that as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, she is required to “conduct oversight of foreign aid from the United States of America and to legislate on human rights practices around the world.”
“The irony of the ‘only democracy’ in the Middle East making such a decision is that it is both an insult to democratic values and a chilling response to a visit by government officials from an allied nation,” she said.
Netanyahu said in his statement that the itinerary they received from Omar and Tlaib showed that their “sole objective” of visiting the majority Jewish nation “is to strengthen the boycott against us and deny Israel’s legitimacy.”
“Only a few days ago, we received their itinerary for their visit in Israel, which revealed that they planned a visit whose sole objective is to strengthen the boycott against us and deny Israel’s legitimacy,” the Israeli prime minister said.
“For instance: they listed the destination of their trip as Palestine and not Israel, and unlike all Democratic and Republican members of Congress who have visited Israel, they did not request to meet any Israeli officials, either from the government or the opposition,” he added.
Dov Hikind, the founder of Americans Against Anti-Semitism, told The Epoch Times that he thinks “it would have been a disaster” if Omar and Tlaib had visited Israel because “things in their itinerary were meant to be provocative.”
“These two individuals when they applied and showed the itinerary to the Israeli government, the itinerary was that they were going to visit Palestine—it was like Israel doesn’t exist. It’s amazing,” Hikind said. “And so many things in the itinerary were meant to be provocative and I think it would have been a disaster.”
Meanwhile, the Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), which represents over 1,000 traditional rabbis in matters of public policy, commended Israel’s decision to refuse entry to the two congresswomen.
“Besides the fact that they requested no meetings with Israeli officials, wishing only to travel to ‘Palestine,’ these are not people who would be convinced by seeing ‘the facts on the ground,'” CJV Vice President Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld said in a statement emailed to The Epoch Times. “Omar says that Israel’s careful self-defense is ‘hypnotizing the world’ regarding its ‘evil doings,’ and that her colleagues only support Israel due to being bought out. Tlaib rewrites Middle Eastern history to claim that Arabs gave Jews a ‘safe haven’ at their own expense.”
“Both are sponsors of a resolution claiming that boycotting Israel is ‘pursuit of civil and human rights’ while comparing Israel to Nazi Germany. Their hatred will not be cured by meetings with the Palestinian Authority, which generously supports those who murder Jews,” he added.
Similarly to Omar, Tlaib also responded to Israel’s denial of entry, accusing the country of displaying a “sign of weakness,” while sharing a photo of her grandmother.
“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,” she wrote.
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
Earlier, Trump posted on Twitter expressing support for Israel, saying that the country “would show great weakness” if it allowed the two congresswomen to visit.
“They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Aug. 15. “Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!”
In a later post, the president reiterated his claim, saying, “Representatives Omar and Tlaib are the face of the Democrat Party, and they HATE Israel!”
Epoch Times reporter Zachary Stieber contributed to this report. Additional reporting by NTD reporter Miguel Moreno.