Reps. Tlaib and Omar won’t be barred from Israel

Arrivals & Departures

April Brady/Project on Middle East Democracy

Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) gives remarks during the event "Al Sisi in Washington: Egyptian President Seeks Support for Power Grab" on April 9, 2019.

Israel will allow Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) entry into the country, should they move forward with planned travel, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. said on Friday.

“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,” Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, said in a statement. 

Tlaib is believed to be organizing a trip for congress members to the Palestinian territories, according to an invitation she shared with Jewish Insider in May. However, the organization listed as leading the trip, the Humpty Dumpty Institute (HDI), told JI it won’t be running any programming. Joe Merante, executive director for HDI, said that no trip is confirmed until it goes through the approval process of the House Ethics Committee.

On Wednesday, Omar told JI that she looks forward to traveling to “both” Israel and the Palestinian territories in a “few weeks.” 

In 2017, the Israeli Knesset passed an amendment providing the Interior Ministry the power to deny entry to any visitor to Israel that is involved in activities or organizations boycotting Israel. 

Both Tlaib and Omar have come out in support of the BDS movement. 

Last year, an American university student was detained for two weeks before being allowed to enter Israel over concerns she supports and participates in BDS. 

Jonathan Schachter, former foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, called the BDS movement “bizarro” on Friday.

“I see where the BDS movement is often discussed, sort of, in progressive terms, which is sort of a bizzarro moment for me because the BDS movement idea of boycotting Israel, is actually incredibly regressive. It’s basically just taking the Arab League boycott of the ‘40s and making it current policy. Which is anything but progressive,” said Schachter, replying to a question by JI, while speaking in Washington D.C. at an event hosted by the Foundations for Defense of Democracies. 

Schachter continued that it is important not to “paint BDS supporters with too broad a brush,” that the founding ideals of BDS oppose any Jewish state in the area where Israel is, as opposed to those who view boycott as an expression of free speech. 

“I think, there are those who really understand the ideas of the founders of BDS, which was unequivocal in its opposition to the existence of Israel and then there are others who think it just sound like, a way of voting with your pocketbook, and they don’t really, they’re not necessarily aware of those things. If the idea is to make peace between Israel and Palestinians I don’t think BDS is the way it’s going to be achieved any more than I think that any of these other counterproductive things are going to move things forward.”

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