Trump Weighs in After Tlaib ‘Obnoxiously’ Passes on Approved Trip to See Grandmother

August 17, 2019 Updated: August 18, 2019

President Donald Trump weighed in after Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) declined to travel to the West Bank to see her 90-year-old grandmother, wondering if it was a setup.

Israel was very respectful and nice to Rep. Rashida Tlaib, allowing her permission to visit her ‘grandmother.’ As soon as she was granted permission, she grandstanded and loudly proclaimed she would not visit Israel. Could this possibly have been a setup? Israel acted appropriately!” the president wrote on Twitter late Aug. 16.

“Rep. Tlaib wrote a letter to Israeli officials desperately wanting to visit her grandmother. Permission was quickly granted, whereupon Tlaib obnoxiously turned the approval down, a complete setup. The only real winner here is Tlaib’s grandmother. She doesn’t have to see her now!” he added.

He said that Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) “are fast becoming the face of the Democrat Party.”

Tlaib and Omar, fervent supporters of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement aimed at dealing heavy blows to Israel’s economy, planned a trip to Israel that was slated to start on Aug. 18.

Israel announced on Aug. 15 that the Congresswomen were barred from entering the country because of their vocal support for the movement, noting the United States in the past barred an Israeli member of Knesset.

“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,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

He indicated that officials might let Tlaib into the West Bank to see her grandmother and other family members if she asked, and she sent a letter requesting entry “to visit my relatives, and specifically my grandmother, who is in her 90s and lives in Beit Ur al-Fouqa. This could be my last opportunity to see her.”

“I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit,” Tlaib wrote.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) in Washington, next to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), on March 13, 2019. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Israel granted the request on Friday.

A few hours later, Tlaib said she changed her mind and wouldn’t go to Israel, citing the alleged “racist treatment” she received from officials.

“Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother’s heart. Silencing me with treatment to make me feel less-than is not what she wants for me—it would kill a piece of me that always stands up against racism and injustice,” Tlaib wrote in a statement.

“When I won the election to become a United States Congresswoman, many Palestinians, especially my grandmother, felt a sense of hope, a hope that they would finally have a voice. I cannot allow the Israeli government to take that away from them or to use my deep desire to see my grandmother, potentially for the last time, as a political bargaining chip,” she added.

“My family and I have cried together throughout this ordeal; they’ve promised to keep my grandmother alive until I can one day reunite with her. It is with their strength and heart that I reiterate I am a duly elected United States Congresswoman and I will not allow the Israeli government to humiliate me and my family or take away our right to speak out. I will not allow the Israeli government to take away our hope.”

Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, who approved Tlaib’s family visit, reacted to the change of heart, noting that Tlaib said in her letter asking for permission to visit that “it might be my last chance” to see her grandmother.

“I approved her request as a gesture of goodwill on a humanitarian basis, but it was just a provocative request, aimed at bashing the State of Israel. Apparently her hate for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother,” he wrote.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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