This week, outrage was sparked after Israel banned Democratic congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country.
Shortly before the Israeli government announced that two would be banned from the country, Trump tweeted, “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change.”
The Israeli government seems to have taken heed to President Trump’s advice.
Both Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are far-left Muslims who are quite outspoken critics of Israeli policy toward Palestinians. They both support to BDS movement – a group of people who essentially advocates boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. The two congresswomen are also vocal critics of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – a close ally to President Trump.
Israel’s decision prompted a backlash from Democrats and even some Jewish groups. Some are concerned that it could erode bipartisan support for the state of Israel.
The decision is more than likely to deepen the divide within the Democratic Party over the state of Israel, as support for Netanyahu’s right-wing government has decreased significantly among American Democrats in recent years. A 2017 survey indicated that 56% of Democrats support economic sanctions against Israel if it continued to expand its settlements into Palestinian territory.
Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders has said that if Israel wishes to ban members of Congress, it shouldn’t receive billions of dollars in US military aid each year.
“The idea that a member of the United States Congress cannot visit a nation which by the way we support to the tune of billions and billions of dollars is clearly an outrage,” Sanders asserted.
This year alone, the US will give $3.1 billion in aid to Israel as part of a 10-year, $38 billion military aid package agreement that was reached under the Obama administration.
In response to the outrage, Israeli Prime Minister explained the actions taken by his government in a statement. He said, “As a vibrant and free democracy, Israel is open to any critic and criticism, with one exception. Israel’s law prohibits the entry of people who call and act to boycott Israel, as is the case with other democracies that prevent the entry of people whom they see as harming the country.”
Omar called Israel’s move to ban her and Tlaib from entering the country is “an insult to democratic values.”
Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren also took to Twitter, writing, “Israel doesn’t advance its case as a tolerant democracy or unwavering US ally by barring elected members of Congress from visiting because of their political views.”