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Israel Bars Entry to Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, BDS

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Israel Bars Entry to Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. Rightfully So.

Boycotts work both ways.

This morning, Israeli outlets reported that Rep. Ilhan Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib would be barred from entering Israel, reportedly due to their “suspected provocations and promotion of BDS” — the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions initiative, which targets the Middle East’s only Democracy. President Trump indicated his support for Israel’s actions, arguing that “[i]t would show great weakness if Israel allowed” the congresswomen to visit.

If Tlaib and Omar are going to push a boycott on one of America’s most important allies, they shouldn’t be surprised about being boycotted themselves.

A number of prominent progressives criticized Israel’s decision. Jennifer Rubin, a left-wing blogger at the Washington Post, argued that Israel was in the wrong, as “[w]eak, fearful countries don’t allow critics in.” Dan Shapiro, the ambassador to Israel under President Obama, suggested that Israel’s volte-face “makes little sense” and that it would “harm Israel’s standing” in America and “boost BDS.”

Others questioned whether Israel’s reversal was flippant. Politico’s Jake Sherman suggested that the Israeli government had undermined Ron Dermer, their ambassador to the United States, wondering how Dermer could “publicly voice something that ended up being so wrong.”

The progressives are in the wrong, and Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Trump are in the right. Israeli law mandates that Reps. Omar and Tlaib be barred from entering — and given that their itinerary provides no indication of any desire to talk with the Israeli government and understand their perspective, there’s little reason to make an exception for the congresswomen.

In short: if Tlaib and Omar are going to push a boycott on one of America’s most important allies, they shouldn’t be surprised about being boycotted themselves.

ISRAELI LAW BARS BDS SUPPORTERS FROM ENTERING THE COUNTRY

Israeli law requires Israel’s interior minister to bar foreign nationals who “knowingly issued a public call to boycott the state of Israel” or have “pledged to participate in said boycott.” Both Reps. Omar and Tlaib publicly support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement; under Israeli law, they are likely categorically barred from entering Israel; there are no special exceptions within the law for politicians.

This itinerary suggests that they were not coming to build bridges with the Israeli government. Rather, it suggests they were intending to act as provocateurs.

Despite this mandate from the Knesset, the Israeli government was planning to allow Omar and Tlaib to enter; Ambassador Dermer stated last month that “[o]ut 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.” But that decision was made before Omar and Tlaib’s itinerary became public.

According to a report from the Washington Post, the pair planned to visit East Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem, and Hebron — all cities under Palestinian control. They had also refrained from scheduling any official meetings with the Israeli government.

This itinerary suggests that they were not coming to build bridges with the Israeli government. Rather, it suggests they were intending to act as provocateurs. Under those circumstances, the Netanyahu government is right to reverse its decision, and comply with the wishes of its Knesset.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel

Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel

REJECTING SECTARIANISM

Democrats might try to frame Israel’s decision as a rebuke to the United States. It’s nothing of the sort.

It would be one thing if Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were heads of state or were broadly popular. But they aren’t. Omar, for her part has a 9% approval rating among swing state voters. There’s a reason for their unpopularity; their politics are perhaps the most sectarian of any members of Congress. Moreover, their promotion of BDS does not represent the will of the American people. Just last month, the House passed a bill opposing BDS by an overwhelming vote of 398-17, with Omar and Tlaib among the dissenters.

Even if Israeli law did not mandate that Omar and Tlaib be barred for their support of BDS, their other extreme views and actions are perfectly sound reasons for Israel to bar them from entry.

While a state representative, Omar sought clemency for nine Somali-American men who had been convicted of trying to provide assistance to ISIS. Prior to being a state representative, she accused Israel of “hypnotizing” the world, playing on a classic anti-semitic trope. And most recently, she impugned the integrity of Republican members of Congress by leveraging another anti-semitic trope, suggesting that their support of Israel was “all about the Benjamins.”

Tlaib, similarly, has a fraught history with anti-semitism. Tlaib contributed an editorial to Louis Farrakhan’s periodical Final Call in 2006. Farrakhan has been a notorious anti-semite for decades, most recently comparing Jews to termites. And like Rep. Omar, she similarly accused Congressional representatives of dual loyalty, suggesting that “they forget what country they represent.”

Tlaib has publicly admitted to supporting a one-state solution in Israel — one state, effectively, meaning that a Palestinian majority would govern Israel, and likely dismantle the world’s only Jewish state. And just last week, Tlaib aggressively came to the defense of Hamas, after Jake Tapper rightly compared their rhetoric to the rhetoric of white nationalists.

Even if Israeli law did not mandate that Omar and Tlaib be barred for their support of BDS, their other extreme views and actions are perfectly sound reasons for Israel to bar them from entry.

PELOSI’S IMPOTENCE

Earlier this year, House Majority Leader Pelosi clearly stated — at AIPAC — that her caucus would “never allow anyone to make Israel a wedge issue.” Events, however, seem to have overtaken her.

She has avoided overt condemnation of Omar and Tlaib for their positions on Israel and their more extreme rhetoric. When senior House Democrats tried to pass a resolution condemning anti-semitism, Pelosi gave in to the progressive wing, and passed a watered down resolution that condemned “all” hatred. (One wonders what those progressives would have thought of a resolution affirming that “all lives matter.”)

Now, Israel’s decision to bar Reps. Omar and Tlaib has put the House Majority Leader in a serious bind. She cannot support Israel’s decision to enforce its own anti-BDS laws while retaining the support of the more progressive wing of her caucus. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has read the tea leaves; he’s already made a statement in support of Omar and Tlaib.

President Trump is right: Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib really are the face of the modern Democratic party, and support for Israel is no longer bipartisan.

That’s one more excellent reason to vote GOP in 2020.

Written By

Will Chamberlain is a lawyer and the publisher of Human Events.

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