No country on earth is obliged to let in a politician who denies its right to exist and plans on making that point during their visit. This is true if it’s the United States, United Kingdom or the United Arab Emirates.
This somehow just becomes controversial when the state is Israel.
As you probably heard, both Democrat Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan were denied entry to Israel on a planned political trip. That’s because the political trip had to do with advancing a boycott of the Jewish state; both Omar and Tlaib are enthusiastic supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, which seeks to treat Israel as if it were something akin to apartheid South Africa because of the Palestinian issue.
The hue and cry was loud, if predictable. The general feeling one got from the anger — whether it was from the American or international left — was that this wasn’t an issue of Israel refusing to let in political actors who were calling for the destruction of the state. Instead, it was a decision to not let two young Muslim women in because President Trump put pressure on the Netanyahu government.
The problem with that is that Rashida Tlaib will be let in to visit her relatives, including what could possibly be her last visit with her grandmother.
Tlaib, whose parents emigrated to the United States, is a Palestinian-American. She still has relatives back in Israel and had requested permission to visit them.
“I would like to request admittance to Israel in order to visit my relatives, and specifically my grandmother, who is in her 90s and lives in Beit Ur al-Fouqa,” Tlaib said in a letter to Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, according to the U.K. Guardian.
“This could be my last opportunity to see her. I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit.”
On Friday, it was announced Israel had approved the visit on “humanitarian” grounds.
“Congresswoman Tlaib has sent tonight a letter to Minister Deri in which she committed to accept all the demands of Israel to respect the restrictions imposed on her in the visit, and she also promised not to advance boycotts against Israel during her visit,” Interior Minister Deri said in announcing his approval, according to CNN.
Not only that but the Israeli official who’s charged with fighting the movement to boycott Israel — Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan — also supported Tlaib’s petition to enter the country.
“The request from Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib to visit her grandmother should be approved. Especially in light of her commitment to abide by Israeli law and not advance boycotts against us,” he said in a tweet.
In short, this had everything to do with the fact that these two congresswomen were visiting Israel as part of their support of the BDS movement — which seeks to destroy Israel — and nothing to do with Rep. Omar’s appraisal of the situation: “Trump’s Muslim ban is what Israel is implementing, this time against two duly elected Members of Congress.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it perfectly clear, in fact, why the duo wasn’t being allowed in.
“No country in the world respects America and the American Congress more than the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said on Twitter.
“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.”
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.
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) August 15, 2019
“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.
“They listed the destination of their trip as Palestine and not Israel, and unlike all Democratic and Republican members of Congress who have visited Israel, they did not request to meet any Israeli officials, either from the government or the opposition.”
For instance: they listed the destination of their trip as Palestine and not Israel, and unlike all Democratic and Republican members of Congress who have visited Israel, they did not request to meet any Israeli officials, either from the government or the opposition.
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) August 15, 2019
The idea — more like cheek — that you can have the expectation to travel to another country in order to lend support to policies that would endanger its very existence is a truly astonishing one. Only when this kind of activity is directed against Israel is the host nation somehow expected to take it — or else they’re considered “evil.”
With Israel’s decision to allow Tlaib in for humanitarian reasons, one hopes more people will see this anger for what it is: naked anti-Israeli sentiment cloaking itself as outrage for Omar and Tlaib and against President Trump.
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