Donald Trump on Thursday criticized Muslim lawmakers Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib as ‘so anti-Israel, so anti-Jewish,’ and praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for banning the two of them from visiting the country.
‘They are so anti-Israel, so anti-Jewish,’ he told reporters in New Jersey, where he is spending a few weeks at his Trump National Golf Course Bedminister.
‘What they have said is disgraceful. So I can’t imagine why Israel would let them in,’ he added as he prepared to leave for a campaign rally in New Hampshire.
Donald Trump criticized Muslim lawmakers Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib as ‘so anti-Israel, so anti-Jewish’
Trump praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for banning Democratic lawmakers Ilhan Omar (left) and Rashida Tlaib (right) from visiting this weekend
The two lawmakers – the first Muslim women elected to Congress – are outspoken supporters of Palestine and support a boycott Israel movement that wants the country to abandon the occupied territories.
Netanyahu announced earlier in the day they would not be granted entry for an visit scheduled for this weekend – an announcement that came about an hour after Trump tweeted his objection to it.
The president said he spoke to Israeli officials about the ban but declined to say who.
‘I don’t want to comment about who I spoke to,’ he said but noted: ‘I did speak to people over there. Yeah.’
He continued to attack the two women – who are frequent political targets of his vitriol – as anti-Israel, an attack line that is almost guaranteed to rev up his political base.
‘They are very anti-Jewish and they are very anti-Israel,’ Trump declared. ‘I think it’s disgraceful the things they have said.’
‘What they’ve said about Israel and Jewish people is a horrible thing and they have become the face of the Democrat Party,’ he added, getting in a jab at Democrats in general.
He also attacked their support for Palestine.
‘They want to do boycotts. They said horrible things about Jewish people, they said horrible things about Israel and Israelis. I think it would be a terrible thing, frankly, for Israel to let these two people who speak so badly about Israel come in,’ Trump said.
‘They’ve said some of the worst things I’ve ever heard said about Israel. So how can Israel say welcome?,’ he added.
President Trump said he didn’t understand why Israel would want to let the two women in
In return, Omar and Tlaib expressed their anger at being banned
The lawmakers, in return, expressed their fury at the ban and took the opportunity to criticize Netanyahu for his treatment of Palestinians.
Omar accused Netanyahu of implementing Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ against two members of Congress, a reference to the administration’s policy to ban refugees from seven Muslim countries, including her birthplace of Somalia.
‘It is an affront that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, under pressure from President Trump, would deny entry to representatives of the U.S. government. Trump’s Muslim ban is what Israel is implementing, this time against two duly elected Members of Congress,’ the Minnesota Democrat said in a statement.
She added it was ‘not a surprise’ that the two were forbidden from their trip, which was organized by a Palestinian lawmaker and included a stop at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. It sits close to the site of the Second Temple, the holiest site in Judaism, making it a hot spot in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
‘Sadly, this is not a surprise given the public positions of Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has consistently resisted peace efforts, restricted the freedom of movement of Palestinians, limited public knowledge of the brutal realities of the occupation and aligned himself with Islamophobes like Donald Trump,’ the congresswoman said.
Tlaib, meanwhile, tweeted a photo of her grandmother Muftia Tlaib, who lives in the occupied West Bank, and said Israel’s decision to ‘bar her granddaughter’ from visiting was a ‘sign of weakness.’
‘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,’ the Michigan Democrat wrote.
Earlier Thursday, Donald Trump advised Israel it would show ‘great weakness’ to allow Democratic Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib to visit
Representatives Ilhan Omar (left) and Rashida Tlaib (right) are the first Muslim women elected to Congress
Netanyahu’s decision to bar the women from his country came after Trump advised it would show ‘great weakness’ to allow the Democratic members of Congress to obtain entry, claiming they ‘hate Israel & all Jewish people.’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu statement
No country in the world respects America and the American Congress more than the State of Israel.
As a free and vibrant democracy, Israel is open to critics and criticism, with one exception: Israeli law prohibits the entry into Israel of those who call for and work to impose boycotts on Israel, as do other democracies that prohibit the entry of people who seek to harm the country. In fact, in the past the US did this to an Israeli member of Knesset, as well as to other public figures from around the world.
Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar are leading activists in promoting the legislation of boycotts against Israel in the American Congress. Only a few days ago, we received their itinerary for their visit in Israel, which revealed that they planned a visit whose sole objective is to strengthen the boycott against us and deny Israel’s legitimacy. For instance: they listed the destination of their trip as Palestine and not Israel, and unlike all Democratic and Republican members of Congress who have visited Israel, they did not request to meet any Israeli officials, either from the government or the opposition.
A week ago, Israel warmly welcomed some 70 Democratic and Republican members of Congress, who expressed broad bipartisan support for Israel, which was also demonstrated a month ago in a resounding bipartisan vote against BDS in Congress.
However, the itinerary of the two Congresswomen reveals that the sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel and increase incitement against it.
In addition, the organization that is funding their trip is Miftah, which is an avid supporter of BDS, and among whose members are those who have expressed support for terrorism against Israel.
Therefore, the minister of interior has decided not to allow their visit, and I, as prime minister, support his decision.
Nonetheless, if Congresswoman Tlaib submits a humanitarian request to visit her relatives, the minister of interior has announced that he will consider her request on the condition that she pledges not to act to promote boycotts against Israel during her visit.
About an hour after Trump tweeted his objection to their visit, the Israeli government announced the two Muslim lawmakers were banned from visiting in an extraordinary act of intervention on behalf of a U.S. president into the internal affairs of one of America’s allies.
‘The decision has been made; the decision is not to allow them to enter,’ Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told the country’s Reshet Radio.
Netanyahu, in a statement, said the lawmakers’ visit was designed to ‘hurt’ Israel, citing their support of the boycott Israel movement.
‘Their intent is to hurt Israel and increase its unrest against it,’ he said.
Trump had encouraged Israel’s move against his political rivals.
‘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!,’ the president tweeted Thursday morning.
And after Israel announced the decision, the president doubled down.
‘Representatives Omar and Tlaib are the face of the Democrat Party, and they HATE Israel!,’ he tweeted.
The two congresswomen support the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement, which aims to end international support for Israel because of its policies toward Palestinians and its continued construction on the West Bank, which is considered a violation of international law.
The boycott also calls for full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Under Israeli law, backers of the movement can be denied entry into the country.
Omar also accused Netanyahu with interfering with her official duties.
‘As a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, it is my job to conduct oversight of foreign aid from the United States of America and to legislate on human rights practices around the world. The irony of the “only democracy” in the Middle East making such a decision is that it is both an insult to democratic values and a chilling response to a visit by government officials from an allied nation,’ she said in her statement.
Netanyahu, in his statement explaining the decision, claimed the two women’s visit had the ‘sole purpose’ to ‘strengthen the boycott and negate Israel’s legitimacy.’
‘There is no country in the world that respects the US and the US Congress more than Israel,’ Netanyahu said.
But he pointed out the two members of Congress ‘defined their visit destination as “Palestine” rather than “Israel,” and, unlike all Democratic and Republican congressmen to date, they have avoided seeking any meeting with an official Israeli official in both the government and the opposition.’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the two lawmakers’ visit was designed to ‘hurt’ Israel and banned them from coming
Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar support the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement, which aims to end international support for Israel because of its policies toward Palestinians
Netanyahu said he would considering allowing Rep. Tlaib to visit her grandmother, Muftia Tlaib, who lives in the occupied West Bank, if the congresswoman promised not to discuss the boycott on her visit
Last week, the prime minister met with 41 Democratic members of Congress who were visiting the country, which included Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, one of the highest-ranking Democrats in Congress and a strong supporter of Israel.
An aide to Hoyer said the leader called Netanyahu and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer to try and convince them to let Omar and Tlaib visit.
‘Leader Hoyer has been working since yesterday to convince the Israeli government to allow Reps. Tlaib and Omar entry, including speaking directly to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Ambassador Dermer yesterday,’ the aide told DailyMail.com.
‘He believes refusing them entry is a grave mistake that undermines the bipartisan pro-Israel consensus. He believes it is a sign of weakness and that Israel should welcome discussion and the opportunity for Members to visit and see the facts for themselves,’ the aide added.
In a statement, Hoyer called the decision to ban the lawmakers ‘outrageous’ and accused Dermer of lying to him.
‘The decision of the Israeli government to deny entry to Israel by two Members of Congress is outrageous, regardless of their itinerary or their views. This action is contrary to the statement and assurances to me by Israel’s ambassador to the United States that ‘out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any Member of Congress into Israel.’ That representation was not true,’ he said.
He urged Netanyahu to reconsider his decision and ‘ensure that all Members of Congress who wish to visit Israel and/or the West Bank will be received with the proper respect and recognition they are due.’
Dermer said in July the two lawmakers would be allowed to visit.
‘Out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel,’ he said.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi also criticized the decision and urged Israel to reverse course.
‘As one who loves Israel, I am deeply saddened by the news that Israel has decided to prevent Members of Congress from entering the country,’ she said in a statement. ‘I pray that the Government of Israel will reverse that denial.’
‘Israel’s denial of entry to Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar is a sign of weakness, and beneath the dignity of the great State of Israel. The President’s statements about the Congresswomen are a sign of ignorance and disrespect, and beneath the dignity of the Office of the President,’ she added.
Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said last month the Democratic congresswomen would be allowed to visit ‘out of respect for the U.S. Congress’
Netanyahu speaks to several members of Congress who visited Israel last week, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who’s sitting in the front row
Several lawmakers visited the country last week, including House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who’s seated in the front center
Top House Republican, Leader Kevin McCarthy, was also in Israel last week and said the Democratic congresswomen should be allowed to visit.
‘I feel very secure in this, that anyone who comes with open ears, open eyes and an open mind will walk away with an understanding, just as all these members here do, that this bond is unbreakable,’ he told reporters in Jerusalem last Sunday. ‘I think all should come.’
McCarthy said on Thursday that Tlaib and Omar should have come on last week’s trip.
‘A record 70+ members of Congress—Reps and Dems—came to Israel this month with open minds, open eyes, and open ears. It’s unfortunate that a few freshmen members declined to join this opportunity to hear from all sides. They should have come,’ he wrote on Twitter.
Hoyer and McCarthy were traveling in Israel with AIPAC, the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which lobbies for pro-Israel policies. Its annual conference is a must-attend for lawmakers of both parties, including President Trump.
But even AIPAC broke with Netanyahu on his decision to ban the lawmakers.
We disagree with Reps. Omar and Tlaib’s support for the anti-Israel and anti-peace BDS movement, along with Rep. Tlaib’s calls for a one-state solution. We also believe every member of Congress should be able to visit and experience our democratic ally Israel firsthand.
‘We disagree with Reps. Omar and Tlaib’s support for the anti-Israel and anti-peace BDS movement, along with Rep. Tlaib’s calls for a one-state solution. We also believe every member of Congress should be able to visit and experience our democratic ally Israel firsthand,’ the organization said in a statement.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio argued that denying the two women entry was a mistake because it would give them a more powerful political platform.
‘I disagree 100% with Reps. Tlaib & Omar on #Israel & am the author of the #AntiBDS bill we passed in the Senate. But denying them entry into #Israel is a mistake. Being blocked is what they really hoped for all along in order to bolster their attacks against the Jewish state,’ he tweeted.
But U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman supported Netanyahu’s decision.
‘The United States supports and respects the decision of the Government of Israel to deny entry to the Tlaib/Omar Delegation,’ he said in a statement.
Netanyahu did offer a concession to Tlaib, who is of Palestinian descent and has family in the West Bank area.
He said if she submitted a request to visit her family members in the occupied West Bank on humanitarian grounds, Israel would consider it as long as she promised not to promote the boycott.
Last month, the House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning the boycott as one that ‘promotes principles of collective guilt, mass punishment and group isolation, which are destructive of prospects for progress towards peace.’
Omar and Tlaib voted against it.
The lawmakers were scheduled to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. It sits close to the site of the Second Temple, the holiest site in Judaism, making it a hot spot in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
The two women were to travel with an organization headed by a longtime Palestinian lawmaker, Hanan Ashrawi.
The itinerary was to include stops in the West Bank cities of Hebron, Ramallah and Bethlehem, as well as Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, including a visit to the Al Aqsa Mosque, a hotly contested holy site, according to The New York Times.
No meetings had been planned with either Israeli or Palestinian officials, other than with Ashrawi, who is also a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee. She told the newspaper the organization she chairs, Miftah, was co-sponsoring the visit.
The controversy comes as Netanyahu is in the mist of a tough re-election contest.
He has touted his close ties to Trump and the Democratic leadership in Congress during the campaign.
Palestinian human rights defender and BDS movement co-founder Omar Barghouti criticized Netanyahu’s decision.
‘The Palestinian-led BDS movement condemns the far-right Israeli government’s McCarthyite decision to prevent Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar from visiting the Occupied Palestinian Territory over their support for Palestinian freedom. We call for cutting US military aid to Israel,’ he said in a statement.
Democrats criticized Israel’s decision to ban their fellow lawmakers.
‘Banning Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib from entering Israel and Palestine is a sign of enormous disrespect to these elected leaders, to the United States Congress, and to the principles of democracy. The Israeli government should reverse this decision and allow them in,’ Bernie Sanders tweeted.
‘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. This would be a shameful, unprecedented move. I urge Israel’s government to allow @IlhanMN and @RashidaTlaib entry,’ tweeted Elizabeth Warren.
Representative Ted Deutch, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee that oversees the Middle East region, said he was disappointed in the decision.
‘I am extremely disappointed that the Israeli government has chosen not to allow my colleagues to enter Israel,’ he said in a statement.
‘Members of Congress should be able to visit Israel to hear from Israelis with a full range of views just as they should hear from Palestinians with a full range of views,’ he added.
President Trump has long criticized Representatives Tlaib and Omar
The controversy comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the mist of a tough re-election contest
The president has long had Omar and Tlaib in his cross hairs – along with their fellow ‘squad’ members Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley.
Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that members of Congress ‘are frequently asked to visit Israel to “see things for ourselves.” But Netanyahu choosing to ban the only 2 Muslim women in Congress from entering tells the US that only *some* Americans are welcome to Israel, not all. Trump is exporting his bigotry &making matters worse.’
Pressley said America’s relationship with Israel should be reexamined in light of its decision to ban her fellow squad members.
‘When you attack one of us, you attack all of us. Netanyahu is stoking division and punishing dissent just like the occupant of the White House,’ the Massachusetts Democrat said in a statement.
‘We should reevaluate our relationships with any country who seeks to ban Americans and threatens the safety of anyone, including government officials,’ she added.
Additionally, Omar has been a vocal critic of Israel, claiming lawmakers supported it for financial reasons with her now infamous ‘all about the Benjamins’ tweet in February.
She later apologized for her remarks, which critics said were anti-Semitic, and acknowledged that they were wrong. Additionally, the House voted on a resolution condemning hate language – a move in reaction to comments from Omar.
Tlaib was a Trump critic from the start. Shortly after she took the oath of office in January, video emerged of her at a MoveOn.org event , vowing of the president: ‘We’re going to impeach the motherf***er!’
Rep. Tlaib was going to stay in the country a few extra days to visit family in Palestine: above her aunt Fadwa (center) grandmother Muftiyeh (right) and uncle Bassam (left)
Trump has long targeted Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilham Omar – along with fellow squad members Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley
Trump has expressed his anger with both of them and suggested last month that all four lawmakers on the ‘squad’ go ‘back where they came from.’
Only Omar was born outside of the United States – she immigrated from Somalia as a child – and she became an American citizen when she was a teenager.
The president also used statements against them labeled as ‘racist.’
Tlaib was planning to stay a few extra days after the planned trip to visit her grandmother, who lives in the region.
The Michigan lawmaker was born in the United States but traces her roots to the Palestinian village of Beit Ur Al-Fauqa in the West Bank. Her grandmother and extended family live in that village.