WASHINGTON, DC, August 15, 2019 – The reports that the Israeli government is planning to deny Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) entry to the occupied Palestinian territory are appalling, unsurprising, and par for the course with Israel’s racist and exclusionary policies. Not only has Israel been banning entry to Palestinians since first expelling them and creating the world’s most protracted refugee crisis in 1948, but discrimination against Palestinian, Arab, and/or Muslim travelers to Palestine/Israel is well-documented.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s blatant attempt to silence and punish these members of Congress for their principled advocacy for Palestinian rights is part of a broader pattern of repression of human rights defenders in Israel, the U.S., and across the globe. In the U.S., the Trump administration revoked the visa of Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the ICC, earlier this year; denied a visa to Palestinian diplomat Hanan Ashrawi; and prevented Omar Barghouti, a champion of the movement for freedom, justice, and equality for the Palestinian people, from traveling to the U.S. for his daughter’s wedding.
Members of Congress must condemn Israel’s attempts to make an example of Reps. Tlaib and Omar, and hold Israel accountable for the racist and exclusionary policies that underlie the Israeli government’s policies towards Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims. Reps. Tlaib and Omar—like the Palestinian people and people everywhere—should have the freedom to go wherever they please, whether that is to be with families and loved ones, or to inform themselves on the ground of the impact of U.S. policy on the Palestinian people, or to engage in political action in support of justice and human rights.