‘It became clear that they were planning a campaign whose sole purpose was to strengthen the boycott and negate Israel’s legitimacy…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) Israel has denied entry to Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., just days before their scheduled visit, citing the congresswomen’s support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement as evidence of their intention to do harm.
“Congressmen [sic] Talib and Omar are leading activists in promoting boycott legislation against Israel in the US Congress,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Twitter.
“Only a few days ago, we received their visitation plan, and it became clear that they were planning a campaign whose sole purpose was to strengthen the boycott and negate Israel’s legitimacy.”
An Israeli official told reporters earlier this week that Netanyahu and top cabinet members were considering blocking Omar and Tlaib’s visit.
President Donald Trump encouraged Netanyahu to go through with it, saying it would be “weak” to allow Omar and Tlaib, who “hate Israel & all Jewish people” to enter the country.
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
Omar and Tlaib have not yet responded to the news, but several Democratic congressmen have issued statements condemning Israel’s decision.
“The Israeli government should seek to engage these members of Congress in a dialogue regarding Israel’s security and the future of both Israelis and Palestinians,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said.
Similarly, Rep. Eliot Engel, D-NY, the Jewish chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said “If Israel’s government hopes to win the support of American lawmakers across the political spectrum, then this visit could have been an opportunity to share views and make a case for why American support for Israel is so important.”
However, the decision made it seem as if Israel was “closing itself off to criticism and dialogue,” Engel claimed.
“This decision will only strengthen the anti-Israel movements and arguments many of us find so troubling, further politicize support for Israel in the United States, and ultimately play right into the hands of Israel’s enemies,” he said.
Netanyahu continued to stand behind the decision, contending that it was not an attempt to silence criticism.
“There is no country in the world that respects the U.S. and the U.S. Congress more than the State of Israel,” the prime minister tweeted. “As a vibrant and free democracy, Israel is open to any critic and criticism, with one exception: Israel’s law prohibits the entry of people who call and operate to boycott Israel.”