Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the radical US Congresswomen who have both been accused of making antisemitic statements, are being banned from entering Israel over their support for an international movement aimed at marginalizing the majority Jewish country.
The pair recently refused to join a bi-partisan Congressional fact-finding trip, fueling speculation that they wanted to travel separately in order to draw attention to themselves.
Omar, who switched her stance on BDS after getting elected in a district with a high percentage of Jewish voters, has repeatedly come under fire for making statements many found antisemitic, including claiming: “Israel has hypnotized the world.”
“May Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel,” she wrote on Twitter that she later deleted. After claiming earlier this year that some American politicians only support Israel for money, drawing criticism from top Democrats, she apologized.
The reason for the ban is “suspected provocations and promotion of BDS,” Dana Weiss of Israel’s Channel 12 reported on Aug. 15, referring to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.
Weiss said the ban is now “official.”
An Israeli official who wasn’t identified told the Associated Press that Netanyahu, an ally of U.S. President Donald Trump, was meeting with ministers and aides to consider barring the congresswomen.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said that “there is a possibility that Israel will not allow the visit in its current proposed format.”
The last official line on the visit came from Ron Dermer, Isreal’s ambassador to the United States. Dermer told the Times of Israel last month that the country would allow Tlaib and Omar to enter. Omar announced plans for the trip in early July.
“Out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel,” Dermer said in a statement.
A 2017 law allows Israel to bar any foreigner who “knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel.”
According to Channel 12, top Israeli officials held meetings over the past several days over what to do, ultimately deciding to bar the congresswomen from visiting Israel.
Officials are still considering allowing the Americans to visit the territories held by the Palestinian authority, where some of Tlaib’s family members live.
Dan Shapiro, U.S. ambassador to Israel during the Obama administration, was among those criticizing the move.
“Original Israeli decision to allow Tlaib/Omar visit was wise,” he wrote on Twitter. “Reversal makes little sense. I disagree with their stands on Israel, have criticized them. But zero harm in letting them come learn, see (even if they had an agenda). Reversal harms Israel’s standing in US, boosts BDS.”
Political scientists say there are legitimate reasons to bar the politicians from entering Israel, including George Mason law professor Eugene Kontorovich.
“Countries routinely deny visas to those with extremist views,” he wrote. “The US excludes people for ideologies fundamentally hostile to US (ie communism); the UK and others deny entry to public figures with bigoted views as being ‘not conducive to the public good.’ Omar/Tlaib qualify.”
The House of Representatives passed a resolution in July condemning BDS: “The BDS Movement does not recognize, and many of its supporters explicitly deny, the right of the Jewish people to national self-determination.”
It also said, “The BDS Movement targets not only the Israeli government but also Israeli academic, cultural, and civil society institutions, as well as individual Israeli citizens of all political persuasions, religions, and ethnicities, and in some cases even Jews of other nationalities who support Israel.”
Omar, Tlaib, and fellow “Squad” member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) were among 17 lawmakers opposing the resolution, versus the 398 who approved it. Tlaib said on the House floor that people have “the right to boycott the racist policies of the government and the state of Israel.”
Omar and Tlaib introduced a resolution in support of Americans boycotting companies and countries, arguing boycotts are protected by the First Amendment. Omar admitted it was meant to support BDS.
“We are introducing a resolution … to really speak about the American values that support and believe in our ability to exercise our First Amendment rights in regard to boycotting,” Omar told Al-Monitor. “And it is an opportunity for us to explain why it is we support a nonviolent movement, which is the BDS movement.”