U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley quickly denounced Israel’s decision to ban her fellow Squad members — Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar — from visiting over their support for a Palestinian-led boycott movement.
“When you attack one of us, you attack all of us,” Pressley said in a statement. She added that the United States should “reevaluate” its relationship with Israel over the matter.
“They are duly elected members of Congress and we cannot allow them to be marginalized, discriminated against, nor targeted because of their gender, their religious beliefs, nor their ethnicity,” Pressley said. “That is not who we are as a country and we should reevaluate our relationships with any country who seeks to ban Americans and threatens the safety of anyone, including government officials.”
Israel’s decision was announced Thursday shortly after President Trump tweeted it would “show great weakness” to allow Tlaib and Omar to visit the close American ally. The two Muslim members of Congress are outspoken critics of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. Tlaib’s family immigrated to the United States from the West Bank. Both have been accused of making anti-Semitic remarks.
“They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds,” Trump tweeted.
Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said in a statement he decided not to allow Tlaib and Omar to enter because of “their boycott activities against Israel.”
Israel has passed a law permitting a ban on entry to any activist who “knowingly issues a call for boycotting Israel.”
Marty Lamb, vice chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Jewish Committee, said he respects “Israel’s right to make the decision.”
“Israel is a sovereign state with its own laws and policies,” Lamb added. “It’s not my place to tell Israel what to do.”
In July, the Democratic-led House of Representatives voted in favor of a resolution against the BDS movement.
“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,” American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group, tweeted. “We also believe every member of Congress should be able to visit and experience our democratic ally Israel firsthand.”
Some American Jewish organizations objected to barring the two Democrats from entering the country.
The American Jewish Congress said that despite Omar and Tlaib’s planned “propaganda exercise,” it believed that “the costs in the U.S. of barring the entry of two members of Congress may prove even higher than the alternative.”
Nahma Nadich, acting executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, said in a statement, “We are concerned that preventing members of Congress from visiting the State of Israel will weaken the bond between these two great allies and will tear at the fabric of the bi-partisan relationship that Congress has with Israel.”
Herald wire services contributed to this report.
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