United States Rep. Ilhan Omar has responded to a ban on her planned visit to Israel with the charge that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump, has aligned himself with Islamophobes and harmed the cause of peace.
“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,” said Omar, a Somali-American and one of the first two Muslim women to serve in the U.S. House.
“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 added.
Both she and Palestinian-American Rep. Rashida Tlaib planned to make the trip to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. The trip was canceled after Trump sent inflammatory Twitter messages about the two, admitting he had spoken directly to “people over there” but that his tweets on the Israel visit speak for themselves.
“It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit,” Trump said on Twitter, painting Omar and Tlaib as the face of the opposition Democrats. “They hate Israel and all Jewish people, and 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!”
Tlaib also responded but in a more personal vein, posting an image of her Palestinian grandmother and insisting on her right to live with peace and dignity. “The decision by Israel to bar her granddaughter, a U.S. Congresswoman, is a sign of weakness because the truth of what is happening to Palestinians is frightening,” she said.
Image: Ilhan Omar file