US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib was told by Israel today that she could enter the West Bank for a humanitarian visit to her family so long as she agreed in writing not to “promote boycotts against Israel” on the trip.
Following the Israeli government’s decision to bar her congressional delegation with Rep. Ilhan Omar over their suport for the BDS movement, Tlaib had requested to enter Israel to visit her grandmother. In the request she wrote, “I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit.”
But now Tlaib has refused the offer, saying it is “humiliating” and a reflection of “oppressive & racist policies.” She put out three tweets this morning explaining why, citing her sity, grandmother. The tweets also refer to her original plan, to visit Palestine with Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
“My sity wanted to pick figs w/ me. I broke down reading this & worry every single day after I won for my family’s safety. My cousin was texting me which photo of @IlhanMN & I they should put on a welcoming poster when I heard the news [that Israel is barring her]. I couldn’t tell her.
“When I won [in 2018], it gave the Palestinian people hope that someone will finally speak the truth about the inhumane conditions. I can’t allow the State of Israel to take away that light by humiliating me & use my love for my sity to bow down to their oppressive & racist policies.
“Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me. I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in–fighting against racism, oppression & injustice.”
Tlaib’s office then released the following statement:
“In my attempt to visit Palestine, I’ve experienced the same racist treatment that many Palestinian-Americans endure when encountering the Israeli government. In preparation for my visit, my grandmother was deciding which fig tree we would pick from together, while Palestinians and Israelis who are against the illegal military occupation were looking forward to Members of Congress finally listening to and seeing them for the first time. The Israeli government used my love and desire to see my grandmother to silence me and made my ability to do so contingent upon my signing a letter – reflecting just how undemocratic and afraid they are of the truth my trip would reveal about what is happening in the State of Israel and to Palestinians living under occupation with United States support.
“I have therefore decided to not travel to Palestine and Israel at this time. Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother’s heart. Silencing me with treatment to make me feel less-than is not what she wants for me – it would kill a piece of me that always stands up against racism and injustice.
“When I won the election to become a United States Congresswoman, many Palestinians, especially my grandmother, felt a sense of hope, a hope that they would finally have a voice. I cannot allow the Israeli government to take that away from them or to use my deep desire to see my grandmother, potentially for the last time, as a political bargaining chip. My family and I have cried together throughout this ordeal; they’ve promised to keep my grandmother alive until I can one day reunite with her. It is with their strength and heart that I reiterate I am a duly elected United States Congresswoman and I will not allow the Israeli government to humiliate me and my family or take away our right to speak out. I will not allow the Israeli government to take away our hope.
“Racism and the politics of hate is thriving in Israel and the American people should fear what this will mean for the relationship between our two nations. If you truly believe in democracy, then the close alignment of Netanyahu with Trump’s hate agenda must prompt a re-evaluation of our unwavering support for the State of Israel. The denial of entry of a congressional delegation is not only about Congresswoman Omar and I, but also about the deep-rooted racism within Israel that is taking us further away from peace. The Israeli and Palestinian people need us to be more courageous and to be honest brokers of peace. Being silent and not condemning the human rights violations of the Israeli government is a disservice to all who live there, including my incredibly strong and loving grandmother.
“This type of oppression is painful for all humanity, but it is especially painful for me personally every time I hear my loving family members cry out for the freedom to live and the right to feel human.”