Hours after Israeli media reported Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib would not be allowed to enter the West Bank for a planned Congressional delegation, President Donald Trump tweeted Israel should deny the two entry, claiming “they hate Israel” and “all Jewish people.”
The post to social media contradicted a statement put out by White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham four days ago where she assured Washington was not lobbying Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take action, “The Israeli government can do what they want. It’s fake news.”
Axios reported the statement last week, adding sources said behind closed doors Trump lambasted the freshmen Congressmen over their support to the BDS movement, or the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. The president reportedly said if they boycott Israel, “then Israel should boycott them.”
Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely confirmed the two Congresswomen would not be allowed entry this morning to Israel’s Reshet Radio this morning, Reuters reported.
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 their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 15, 2019
Axois went on to reveal while Trump was opposed to the trip, Democrats proposed an ultimatum to Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer: ensure Tlaib and Omar can travel to the West Bank or Democrats would scotch an upcoming AIPAC organized trip to Israel.
Israel passed an anti-BDS law in 2017 that makes it legal to deny entry to foreign travelers who endorse boycotts against Israel. In 2011, Israel adopted legislation that enabled Israeli companies to sue Israeli citizens for damages over the loss of revenue do to boycott campaigns.
Both Tlaib and Omar have spoken in support of the BDS movement. In July Omar and Tlaib, along with Rep. John Lewis (D-MD), introduced legislation affirming the right to boycott Israel. Later in the month the House voted to condemn the BDS movement.
Despite deep debates on the Hill, BDS is still relatively unknown to most voters. The latest JStreet poll conducted during May asked Democratic voters, “How much have you heard about the BDS, or Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against Israel”? to which 63 percent responded, “Have not heard about it.”
Only 4 percent said they heard “a great deal” about BDS.