Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., left, joined at right by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., listens to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Citing “three sources familiar with the situation,” Axios’ Jonathan Swan reports that President Trump told his advisers Israel should use their anti-boycott law to deny entry to Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI). Their trip is currently scheduled for August 18th.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told Swan that Trump denies ever giving any kind of directive to the Israelis. She said, “The Israeli government can do what they want. It’s fake news.”
In other words, Trump didn’t issue an order or even a request that Netanyahu block them from entering Israel. He just offered his opinion to members of his staff. I completely agree with him. Both women have well-documented histories of making anti-Semitic remarks and they are likely the two most anti-Semitic members of Congress.
In March 2017, the Israeli parliament passed an amendment to their anti-boycott law which requires the interior minister to bar entry to Israel to foreign nationals who “knowingly issued a public call to boycott the state of Israel, pledged to participate in said boycott, or act on behalf of a group or an organization that have done so.”
Omar and Tlaib meet all three criteria. Recently, they co-sponsored a resolution in the House to support the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Last month, they were two of 17 lawmakers to vote against a House resolution to condemn BDS. During the preliminary debate, Tlaib compared the BDS movement to the American boycott of Nazi Germany.
We all remember Omar’s reference to the pro-Israel group AIPAC in February. She tweeted, “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby!”
After she was widely condemned by House leadership, she tweeted:
Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes.
My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize…”
In a recent interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Tlaib was asked twice if she believes that Israel has the right to exist. Finally, she responded, “I truly believe the state of Israel is – it exists, correct. But understand, does it exist in the detriment of inequality for the Palestinian people?”
Regarding their upcoming trip, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer believes his country should overlook the anti-boycott law and allow their visit. Dermer said, “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.
According to “a source with direct knowledge,” Trump said that because Omar and Tlaib both supported the boycott, “then Israel should boycott them.”
Israeli officials say congressional Democratic leadership pushed Dermer to allow the congresswomen into the country. Their advocacy, per those officials, is a major reason why Netanyahu will allow the two women in.
The Democrats had argued that if the Israeli government blocked Omar and Tlaib’s entry, then other Democratic members would cancel a planned, AIPAC-sponsored Israel trip in solidarity, these officials said.
Last week, the Israeli deputy national security adviser Reuven Azar held an interagency meeting at the prime minister’s office with representatives of the foreign, interior and strategic affairs ministries to prepare for the visit, according to Israeli officials who were briefed on the meeting. The officials added the meeting focused on how to react to anti-Israeli statements by Omar and Tlaib during the trip and whether to allow entry to people traveling with them who aren’t members of Congress and who support the boycott-Israel movement.
Two senior Netanyahu aides said the issue was very sensitive and they were not allowed to discuss it.
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