Rep. Ilhan Omar has accused Israel of implementing US President Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban” by denying her entry, to cheers of Democrats happy to denounce Trump, but raised eyebrows from conservatives and Israelis.
Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) planned to visit Palestinian territories without meeting any Israeli officials. The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied them entry, citing their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement seeking to pressure Israel into recognizing Palestinian statehood.
The decision was an “affront,” Omar said on Thursday, adding it was not a surprise coming from Netanyahu, who has “aligned himself with Islamophobes like Donald Trump.”
Trump’s Muslim ban is what Israel is implementing, this time against two duly elected Members of Congress.
While Democrat leadership on Capitol Hill condemned Israel’s move, it did not quite go so far as to accuse Netanyahu of taking cues from Trump. Omar’s claim appears to be based on the fact that Trump tweeted that the two lawmakers should not be allowed to visit because they “hate Israel and all Jewish people,” shortly before the Israeli announcement.
Asked if Trump had encouraged Netanyahu to bar the two congresswomen, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said “No,” adding that “the Israeli government can do what it wants.”
Prominent Democrat pundits were quick to accuse Trump of pulling Netanyahu’s strings, however. Among the first was Obama aide Ben Rhodes, who accused Trump of “globalizing the Muslim ban” several hours before Omar’s statement, and called both the US and Israeli leaders “cynical, self-interested, short-sighted racists.”
Conservative pundits shot back, with one pointing out that Trump’s travel restrictions applied to only a fraction of the world’s Muslims, while many Muslim countries in fact have a ban on Israelis or even anyone who ever visited Israel.
1. 13 Muslim countries ban all Israeli citizens from entering, 8 ban anyone who has even VISITED Israel. That’s a real religiously motivated ban.
2. There is no Trump Muslim ban, under the travel ban over 90% of the global Muslim population has been able to travel here.
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) August 15, 2019
Netanyahu’s son Yair also took issue with the “Muslim ban” talking point, saying that Israel has a 20-percent Muslim population represented in the Knesset and the courts.
Hmmm how does israel apply a “Muslim ban” if 20% of our population is Muslim? Represented in our parliament, supreme court, etc?
— Yair Netanyahu 🇮🇱 (@YairNetanyahu) August 15, 2019
Rep. Tlaib, who is of Palestinian origin, did not blame Trump for the block, but called the Israeli ban “a sign of weakness because the truth of what is happening to Palestinians is frightening.”
This woman right here is my sity. She deserves to live in peace & with human dignity. I am who I am because of her. The decision by Israel to bar her granddaughter, a U.S. Congresswoman, is a sign of weakness b/c the truth of what is happening to Palestinians is frightening. pic.twitter.com/GGcFLiH9N3
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) August 15, 2019
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