Foreign Policy

Israel Bars Entry of Anti-Israel Reps. Omar and Tlaib

Prime Minister Netanyahu evokes Israel's law banning foreigners who promote the BDS movement for his decision.

Thomas Gallatin · Aug. 16, 2019

On Thursday, following a social-media comment from President Donald Trump in which he stated that “it would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. [Ilhan] Omar and Rep. [Rashida] Tlaib to visit,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in what some see as a nod to Trump, acted to ban the two Israel-hating congresswomen from entering the Jewish nation. Netanyahu explained, “As a vibrant and free democracy, Israel is open to any visitor and to any criticism, with one exception: The law in Israel forbids the entry of people calling for and acting to place a boycott on Israel, as is the norm in other democracies that prevent the entry of people whom they see as harming the country.”

The law Netanyahu referenced was passed by the Knesset in 2017, which bans the entry of foreigners into the country if they support the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Netanyahu noted that both Omar and Tlaib had made “clear that they were planning a campaign whose sole purpose was to strengthen the boycott and negate Israel’s legitimacy.” Essentially, what Omar and Tlaib were demanding was special treatment to engage in the overt breaking of Israel’s own laws.

Clearly, Omar and Tlaib’s objective was to paint Israel in a negative light regardless of whether they were allowed in. While barring them entry prevents the photo ops, they can now assert that Israel is attempting to hide its “oppression” and claim the martyr mantel to further their anti-Israel narrative. In a sense, Netanyahu was in a no-win situation, as criticism would come no matter what decision was made.

However, in a show of good faith, Israel granted Tlaib permission to enter the country on humanitarian grounds so she could go visit her 90-year-old grandmother living in the West Bank. But — surprise, surprise — Tlaib rejected the offer, stating, “I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in — fighting against racism, oppression & injustice.” Evidently for Tlaib, promoting the Left’s fallacious anti-Semitic BDS narrative trumps all other concerns, including family.

On a final note — and perhaps most important of all — Omar and Tlaib’s trip was organized by Miftah, what The Washington Post calls “a nonprofit organization headed by Palestinian lawmaker and longtime peace negotiator Hanan Ashrawi.” Likewise, the New York Times editorial board says the group “promotes ‘global awareness and knowledge of Palestinian realities.’”

In truth, Miftah not only publishes anti-Semitic bile; it practically endorses anti-Israel terrorism. On more than one occasion, the group whitewashed Palestinian terrorism as “military operations” or the like. All you have to do is imagine a Republican lawmaker traveling while backed by white nationalists and the scandal here is evident.

(Edited and updated.)

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