Israel’s far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided, in an appalling development, to ban two sitting members of the US Congress from entering Israel: Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar.1
Both women of color, both the first two Muslim Congresswomen in US history, and in Tlaib’s case, the first Palestinian-American Congresswoman ever—blocked from pursuing a delegation visit with House leadership to gain greater perspective on Palestinian peoples, their stories, and and the daily struggles of military occupation.
This blatant discrimination and undermining of their mission can only mean one thing: With your support, Tlaib and Omar’s pursuit for justice has regimes in power gripping tightly to their fragile status quo.
Since the very first day they were sworn in on the Holy Quran, the attacks on this country’s first two sitting Muslim congresswoman have only escalated.
But thanks to the overwhelming power of voices like yours, we united thousands in a movement against Islamophobic attacks seeking to scapegoat some of the most powerful advocates for justice Capitol Hill has ever seen.
When Trump’s bigoted and Islamophobic incitements become a cornerstone of his re-election campaign we moved thousands of voices to call out spineless apathy from House leadership and forced a response.
When Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) distributed hate-filled mailings openly lying about Reps. Omar and Tlaib, attempting to tie them to violence and terrorism in the 70’s and 80’s, it was you who joined thousands in boldly demanding his investigation and censure.2
And now we’re here. Two sitting members of Congress banned from entering Israel—facing the same discrimination that has prevented Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims from accessing their homes, land, and the chance to worship at Al-Aqsa, the third holiest site in Islam.
So what’s next?
If there’s any good news right now, it’s this: in the few hours since the announcement this morning, we’ve seen an outpouring of disgust with this decision—from Israelis to Palestinians, U.S. Muslims to Jewish advocates, to people from across the world. All are making it clear that it’s time for a reckoning, and possibly a long-postponed conversation on the U.S. role in Israel-Palestine.
Let’s remember the stated reason for barring Reps. Tlaib and Omar: they’ve supported the constitutional rights of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement—a nonviolent tactic to pressure the far-right Israeli government to end its military occupation that dispossesses millions of Palestinian's from basic dignity and freedom.
In other words: Netanyahu is banning members of the U.S. Congress from visiting Israel because they criticize his government, a dangerous act that allows authoritarianism and nationalism to thrive.
1. "Netanyahu blocks Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from visiting Israel," Vox, 15 Aug 2019
2. "Duncan Hunter sends more Islamophobic campaign mailers in California," Politico, 12 Jul 2019