House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has responded to Israel’s decision to block Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who have both been accused of making anti-Semitic remarks, from entering the country over their support for an international movement aimed at marginalizing the Jewish country.
In a statement on Aug. 15, Pelosi criticized Israel for the move, saying that it was “deeply disappointing.”
“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 top Democrat said.
President Donald Trump, who had encouraged Israel’s decision earlier in the day on Twitter, had used similar language.
“It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit,” Trump wrote. “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!”
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 a later post, the president said, “Representatives Omar and Tlaib are the face of the Democrat Party, and they HATE Israel!”
Representatives Omar and Tlaib are the face of the Democrat Party, and they HATE Israel!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 15, 2019
“The President’s statements about the Congresswomen are a sign of ignorance and disrespect, and beneath the dignity of the Office of the President,” Pelosi said about the tweets.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement on Aug. 15 that the country’s Minister of Interior had decided to bar entry to the two congresswomen 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 of Congress, have repeatedly indicated disdain for Israel—saying the country is “occupying” Palestine—and support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement aimed at cutting off monetary support for Israel.
Dov Hikind, 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.”
“I think the decision that Israel made was a tough one to make,” Hikind said. “Under the circumstances, and with all the facts we have about these two individuals, they made the right decision.”
“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,” he added. “It’s amazing. And so many things in the itinerary were meant to be provocative and I think it would have been a disaster.”
Netanyahu said in his statement that the itinerary they received from the two Democrats indicated they were ultimately there to work against Israel.
“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.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) also released a statement following Israel’s decision, calling on Netanyahu to reconsider their decision.
“I strongly oppose the Israeli government’s decision to block the full visit she had planned, a decision that was unwarranted and self-destructive,” he said.
Meanwhile, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) also weighed in, saying that they disagree with Omar and Tlaib for their anti-Israel narrative, but also disagreed with the decision to bar them.
“We disagree with Reps. Omar and Tlaib’s support for the anti-Israel and anti-peace BDS movement, along with Rep. Tlaib’s calls for a one-state solution,” the organization said in a statement. “We also believe every member of Congress should be able to visit and experience our democratic ally Israel firsthand.”
We disagree with Reps. Omar and Tlaib’s support for the anti-Israel and anti-peace BDS movement, along with Rep. Tlaib’s calls for a one-state solution. We also believe every member of Congress should be able to visit and experience our democratic ally Israel firsthand.
— AIPAC (@AIPAC) August 15, 2019
Omar previously drew widespread condemnation earlier in the year for perpetuating anti-Semitic tropes on social media, in one case implying that a prominent pro-Israel lobby group, AIPAC, paid off lawmakers for their support of Israel.
Her comments received bipartisan condemnation and the congresswoman subsequently apologized for her comments. The House passed a watered-down resolution in March that was meant to specifically censure Omar’s comments. The resolution (pdf), approved by a vote of 407–23, was expanded to include other forms of discrimination and omitted Omar’s name.
Along with her comments in February, Omar also received criticism for a 2012 post where she wrote: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” The tweet has since been deleted.
Epoch Times reporter Zachary Stieber contributed to this report. Additional reporting by NTD reporter Miguel Moreno.