Israel bars US Reps. Tlaib and Omar from visiting


U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib. - STEVE NEAVLING
  • Steve Neavling
  • U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib.

Israel is barring Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from entering the country due to their support for boycotting the Jewish state.

“Israel has decided — we won’t enable the members of Congress to enter the country,” Israel Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told the Kan public broadcaster. “We won’t allow those who deny our right to exist in this world to enter Israel. In principle, this is a very justified decision.”

The ban comes a few days before the two congresswomen were expecting to visit Israel and the West Bank this weekend.

About two hours before media reports confirmed the ban, President Donald Trump chimed in on Twitter.
“It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit,” Trump tweeted at 9:57 a.m. “They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!”

In 2017, Israel enacted a law that bars the entry of foreign nationals who support boycotting the country.

On July 23, Tlaib and Omar voted against a House resolution to condemn the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The House voted 398-17 in favor of the measure, which criticized the boycott-Israel movement as one that “promotes principles of collective guilt, mass punishment and group isolation, which are destructive of prospects for progress towards peace.”

Tlaib, a Palestinian-American from Detroit, and Omar, a naturalized citizen from Somalia, are the first two Muslim women in Congress.

Before the vote, Tlaib labeled Israel’s policies toward Palestinians as “racist.”

“I stand before you as the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, parents who experienced being stripped of their human rights, the right to freedom of travel, equal treatment,” Tlaib said. “So I can’t stand by and watch this attack on our freedom of speech and the right to boycott the racist policies of the government and the state of Israel.”

Before the ban was reported, the Jewish Democratic Council on America (JDCA) called on the Israeli government to allow the congresswomen to visit the country.

“Banning members of Congress from visiting Israel, where they can see facts on the ground with their own eyes, is counterproductive and plays into President Trump’s goal of politicizing support for Israel,” JDCA Executive Director Halie Soifer said in a statement Thursday morning.

Soifer also criticized Trump for suggesting last week that the congresswomen should be denied entry.

“Once again, President Trump has inappropriately interfered in Israel’s democracy, to the detriment of the U.S.-Israel relationship,” Soifer said. “The best way to fight falsehoods about Israel is with truth, and the best way to refute charges that Israel is anti-democratic is uphold democratic principles. Moreover, the best way to deepen an understanding of the complex dynamics surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is for individuals to visit. These are the opportunities Reps. Omar and Tlaib’s trip to Israel would provide.”

Last month, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, D.C., Ron Dermer, said the two lawmakers would be allowed in the country.

"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.

But Trump reportedly disagreed with Dermer’s rationale, telling advisers that “Israel should boycott them” if they want to boycott Israel.

Trump’s attacks on Tlaib and Omar are just the latest in a series of racist rants in which he said they should “go back” to where they came from, even though Tlaib was born in America and Omar is a naturalized citizen.

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.