Israel Blocks Visit by Omar, Tlaib After Trump Smears Them in a Tweet

“They hate Israel & all Jewish people!”

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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President Donald Trump on Thursday called on the Israeli government to bar Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) from entering the country during a planned visit to the West Bank this weekend, claiming in an incendiary tweet that they “hate Israel” and “all Jews.”

Less than an hour later, Israel formally announced that the two Democratic congresswomen—the first and only two Muslim women to be elected to Congress—would not be allowed entry. “We won’t allow those who deny our right to exist in this world to enter Israel,” Israel’s deputy foreign minister said on state radio, a likely reference to Omar and Tlaib’s support for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement. “In principle, this is a very justified decision.”

Trump’s efforts to block Omar and Tlaib from entering Israel, and thereby punish his perceived political enemies, comes as the latest in his longstanding attacks against the two congresswomen. Those attacks have frequently included racist diatribes and charges of antisemitism.

The White House had previously denied reports that Trump was pressuring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for such a move. “The Israeli government can do what they want,” press secretary Stephanie Grisham had said on Saturday. “It’s fake news.”

The president’s tweet on Thursday all but confirmed the behind-the-scenes efforts. 

The decision to block Omar and Tlaib is all but certain to exacerbate tensions between Netanyahu and Democrats. “Denying entry to members of the United States Congress is a sign of weakness, not strength,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. “It will only hurt the U.S.-Israeli relationship and support for Israel in America.”

The announcement was swiftly condemned on social media:

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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