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Israel Bars Tlaib and Omar from Entry

Barring U.S. members of Congress from visiting Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories is an insult to the Congress and to the U.S.
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Israel has decided to bar Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from visiting the country on the grounds that they support Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS):

The Israeli government will block Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country days before their planned visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, an Israeli broadcaster first reported Thursday morning.

The Israeli government reportedly cited Omar and Tlaib’s support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to punish Israel over its treatment of the Palestinian people. Israel recently banned the granting of visas to foreign nationals who publicly support any boycott of the Jewish state or its West Bank settlements.

Barring U.S. members of Congress from visiting Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories is an insult to the Congress and to the U.S. The fact that the Israeli government cites their support for BDS as the reason for barring them from coming is a remarkable sign of weakness. If Netanyahu wanted to further erode Democratic support for the relationship with Israel and give BDS a major public relations victory, he has outdone himself, but I’m guessing that isn’t what he wanted to do.

There was a report that Trump approved of barring Tlaib and Omar, so the Israeli government may think it is doing the president a favor. If that was one of the reasons why the government decided to do this, they are being remarkably short-sighted. Pleasing Trump may earn them some goodwill for the next two years, but they are making their relations with a future Democratic administration much more difficult.

Refusing to let in two of the three Muslim members of Congress, one of whom is Palestinian-American, looks terrible for the Israeli government, but it is unfortunately an accurate reflection of the “values” of the Israeli government. This has to encourage supporters of BDS and all critics of Israel’s illegal occupation, because it suggests that the Israeli government is too frightened to permit high-profile critics to draw attention to their abuses against the Palestinians. At the very least, it puts a spotlight on those abuses and puts “pro-Israel” hawks on the defensive for a change.

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