Israel will block Muslim Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country, a decision made just hours after President Trump tweeted that Israel would show “great weakness” if they allowed the representatives to visit the Jewish state.
ABC News reports that the country cites Omar and Tlaib’s support for the “boycott, sanctions, and divestment” (BDS) movement as its rationale behind the decision, essentially characterizing the two women as troublemakers and shit-stirrers:
On Twitter, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said 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.”
He added, in a Twitter thread, that Tlaib and Omar are leading activists in promoting boycott legislation against Israel in Congress and that after receiving their visitation plan, “it became clear that they were planning a campaign whose sole purpose was to strengthen the boycot and negate Israel’s legitimacy.”
Israeli officials were also reportedly worried about Omar and Tlaib’s plans to visit Temple Mount in Jerusalem—a holy site for both Muslims and Jews—with representatives of the Palestinian National Authority.
Axios described Israel’s move—banning two duly elected members of Congress from entry—as “unprecedented.” The White House, meanwhile, is unbothered. In a statement, Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said that Israel can “do what it wants” and denied that Trump’s tweet had any influence in Israel’s decision. (Trump’s tweeted that Omar and Tlaib “hate Israel and all Jewish people, and there is nothing that can be done to change their minds.”)
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The move received some swift backlash from Democrats. Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren urged Israel to allow Omar and Tlaib enter the country, tweeting, “Israel doesn’t advance its case as a tolerant democracy or unwavering US ally by barring elected members of Congress from visiting because of their political views.” Presidential candidate Julian Castro said, “The Israeli government just barred two elected members of the U.S. Congress from an official trip just to appease President Trump’s fragile ego.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “Denying entry to members of the United States Congress is a sign of weakness, not strength. It will only hurt the U.S.-Israeli relationship and support for Israel in America.”
But maybe the anger would have more bite if elected officials within the Democratic Party weren’t complicit in characterizing Omar as an anti-Semite and didn’t just overwhelmingly support a bill condemning the BDS movement.
Nancy Pelosi has yet to respond.
Update, 1:40 p.m.: Pelosi released a statement.