USCPR Executive Director Yousef Munayyer spoke with Middle East Eye about the Israeli government barring US Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from entry into Israel for an official trip.

Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, said on Thursday that it will be critical for elected officials in the United States to condemn the Israeli government’s actions.

“There’s an exception on calling out racism and discrimination when it’s practiced by Israel, even if it means that they’re doing that now to American elected officials,” Munayyer told MEE in a telephone interview before the ban was officially announced.

Munayyer highlighted the fact that dozens of members of Congress were able to visit Israel this month on a tour sponsored by the pro-Israel lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

“Nobody was denied because they were participating in AIPAC’s propaganda tour, seeing things from the perspective of the Israeli government,” Munayyer said.

“Now their colleagues, because they didn’t go along with the orthodoxy of Israel’s propaganda, they are being treated differently and denied entry here because they are critical of Israel’s policies.”

The Israeli authorities have regularly barred American and other foreign citizens of Palestinian ancestry from entering the country, Munayyer said, and in that context, the idea that Israel would ban Omar and Tlaib is not surprising.

Still, Munayyer said that “what’s new here is that even members of Congress are not immune from the discriminatory policies of the Israeli state”.

“This is really part of a global effort to silence dissent, and to normalise and make acceptable racism and discrimination so long as Israel is the one doing it,” Munayyer said of the ban on Omar and Tlaib.

“I think that’s not something that anyone who claims to stand for freedom, justice or equality can allow them to get away with.”