U.S. Rep. Omar Speaks Out About Blocked Israel Trip
Local Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, D-Fifth District, and her Michigan colleague Rashida Tlaib spoke out Monday after Israel blocked their plans to visit the Jewish state.
The first two Muslim women elected to Congress criticized the decision by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying it only deepens divisions and lessens understanding. Omar serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Omar and Tlaib recently expressed support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. It’s an international campaign to pressure Israel economically to improve its treatment of Palestinians. The BDS movement also seeks to get Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank and other disputed territories. The campaign compares Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to the history of apartheid in South Africa. Their views have drawn criticism from Israel and President Donald Trump.
Weighing In on the Israel Travel Ban
An overflow crowd showed up at the Minnesota state Capitol Monday to hear Omar and Tlaib speak about Israel’s travel ban.
“Denying visits to duly elected members of Congress is not consistent with being an ally,” Omar said. “[Prime Minister] Netanyahu’s decision to deny us entry might be unprecedented for members of Congress.”
The lawmakers also directed criticism at President Trump, who previously made tweets encouraging Netanyahu to deny their visit.
“We know Donald Trump would love nothing more than to use this issue to pit Muslims and Jewish-Americans against each other,” Omar said.
“As a young girl visiting Palestine to see my grandparents and extended family I watched as my mother had to go through dehumanizing checkpoints,” said a tearful Tlaib.
Omar represents Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District, which includes Brooklyn Center, Crystal, Golden Valley, New Hope and Robbinsdale. People in that area weighed in on the travel ban.
“I think it’s wrong,” said Arnell Simpson of Brooklyn Center. “I kind of think that if you’re going to have a country to be what Israel claims to be, how can you turn away a person that is coming to seek some information about whatever?”
“She’s a great lady and I feel like what she’s doing is for a good cause,” said a Brooklyn Park resident named Emmanuel.
White House Reaction
President Trump kept up his criticism of the two politicians after their press conference.
“Sorry I don’t buy Rep. Tlaib’s tears,” Trump tweeted.
Trump has painted Omar and Tlaib as being antisemitic.
Meanwhile, Omar wants her cohorts in Congress to visit Israel “to see the things we were going to see.”