On July 17, 2019, Democrat Congresswoman Ilhan Omar introduced a pro-BDS movement resolution on Capitol Hill. Her colleague, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, co-sponsored the resolution and compared the Israeli treatment of Palestinians to how the Nazis treated European Jews during World War II. She made the horrific and false accusation during a speech on the House floor.
One day later, Omar and Tlaib announced they were planning a trip to Israel. Coincidence? Hardly.
The order and timing of events here is crucial and proves their goading of Israeli officials was a set up from the beginning.
Omar and Tlaib know Israel has longstanding law and policy barring supporters of the BDS movement from entering the country. It is regularly deployed against BDS activists.
By introducing a pro-BDS resolution in Congress and then a day later announcing a planned trip to Israel, they knew their chances of getting rejected by the Israeli government were high, if not guaranteed.
This enabled them to put Israel in a difficult position with two choices: 1. Violate the law by giving them special treatment and then allowing them to actively campaign against the country’s existence and interests within its own borders 2. Reject them and be accused of bigotry and racism, defacto “proving” allegations from Omar and Tlaib about bigotry, apartheid and unequal treatment. In other words, bad PR. This lose-lose scenario was purposely provided in bad faith.
There are other indicators Omar's and Tlaib’s announced trip to Israel was carefully calculated.
Just last week a congressional delegation of 72 lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans, made an official trip to Israel. They met with Prime Minister Netanyahu and leaders of the Palestinian Authority. Omar and Tlaib refused to go. Instead, they developed their own itinerary and titled it “U.S. Congressional Delegation to Palestine.” Omar and Tlaib don’t believe Israel has a right to exist, so much so they couldn’t bear writing down the country’s name.
Ultimately, a decision had to be made.
"No country in the world respects America and the American Congress more than the State of Israel. 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 released statement.
"Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar are leading activists in promoting the legislation of boycotts against Israel in the American Congress. 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," he continued. “The itinerary of the two Congresswomen reveals that the sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel and increase incitement against it. In addition, the organization that is funding their trip is Miftah, which is an avid supporter of BDS, and among whose members are those who have expressed support for terrorism against Israel. Therefore, the minister of interior has decided not to allow their visit, and I, as prime minister, support his decision.”
Graciously and despite her radical ties, Tlaib was granted the option to apply for a humanitarian visa to visit her family.
“If Congresswoman Tlaib submits a humanitarian request to visit her relatives, the minister of interior has announced that he will consider her request on the condition that she pledges not to act to promote boycotts against Israel during her visit," Netanyahu continued.
Right on queue, Omar engaged in gaslighting, accused the entire country of bigotry and delegitimized Israel's standing as a democracy.
“It is an affront that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, under pressure from President Trump, would deny entry to representatives of the U.S. government. Trump’s Muslim ban is what Israel is implementing, this time against two duly elected Members of Congress. Denying entry into Israel not only limits our ability to learn from Israelis, but also to enter the Palestinian territories,” Omar said in response. “Sadly, this is not a surprise given the public positions of Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has consistently resisted peace efforts, restricted the freedom of movement of Palestinians, limited public knowledge of the brutal realities of the occupation and aligned himself with Islamophobes like Donald Trump.”
“The irony of the ‘only democracy’ in the Middle East making such a decision is that it is both an insult to democratic values and a chilling response to a visit by government officials from an allied nation,” she continued.
Democrats quickly came to her defense to trash the decision, failing to acknowledge the reasons for the denial.
“MoC are frequently asked to visit Israel to “see things for ourselves. But Netanyahu choosing to ban the only 2 Muslim women in Congress from entering tells the US that only *some* Americans are welcome to Israel, not all. Trump is exporting his bigotry &making matters worse,” fellow “squad” member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez chimed in.
“Trump & Netanyahu are afraid to have @reprashida & @ilhan witness first-hand the brutality & dehumanization Israel’s occupation inflicts on the Palestinian people. This bigoted president is working to extend his Muslim travel ban to Members of Congress,” Democrat Congresswoman Betty McCollum tweeted.
“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 President’s statements about the Congresswomen are a sign of ignorance and disrespect, and beneath the dignity of the Office of the President,” Speaker Pelosi lamented.
These actions push the Democrat party even further away from the long-established alliance with Israel, which is exactly what Omar and Tlaib want. It’s one thing Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who used to be an advocate against BDS and declared the movement anti-Semitic, is right about.
“It will only hurt the U.S.-Israel relationship and support for Israel in America,” Schumer said.
Omar and Tlaib weren't denied entry to Israel because they are Muslim, they were denied entry because they are tied to terrorism, actively support the BDS movement and do not believe the country has the right to exist. It's not complicated. It is simple. They won't be visiting Israel for these reasons, but, they already knew that.