The government of Israel has announced that it will not permit US Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib to visit Israel next week. This follows Donald Trump’s Twitter campaign urging the Israeli government to deny entry to Omar and Tlaib.
Let’s take note of how genuinely outrageous this step is, and the fundamental disrespect it demonstrates to the elected government of the United States by both our president and the Israeli government. Both women are duly elected Representatives of their districts. Both have unencumbered rights to express their policy views and concerns, including their view (and many of their constituents’ view) of Israel’s unjust and unwise treatment of the Palestinians.
Shame on the extremist right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu, and shame on Donald Trump, for their fundamental contempt for the norms of democratically elected government. Israeli leaders need to respect and support all American elected officials, not just the extreme right in American politics. (Recall Netanyahu’s insulting and disrespectful treatment of President Obama!)
Many Americans will take note of this action and will lose yet another few ounces of respect and sense of partnership with the state of Israel. And, ironically, the action plays directly into the hands of advocates for the divestment and boycott movement in the United States and elsewhere.
An appropriate response would be for the State Department to take proportionate counter-action with regard to visas for Israeli officials who wish to travel to the United States. Of course we can’t expect anything of the kind from Secretary of State Pompeo. But imagine that it was the Swedish state that had denied admission to extremist right-wing Republican Congressmen! What action would the US take?