Another controversy emerged this week when Israel denied entry to two American congresswomen: Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). The basis for their denial was their support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The BDS movement pushes organizations, companies, individuals, academics, and universities to boycott entities related to the Israeli government or the government itself.
Israel passed a law that permitted the government’s interior ministry to allow or deny permission to BDS movement supporters or proponents to enter the country and this controversy is a demonstration of that law being utilized.
According to the Israeli government, both congresswomen did not agree to an Israeli-led tour of the Temple Mount or meetings with Israeli government officials, which led to the travel ban. Typically, U.S. officials agree to those terms in order to visit Israel.
In response to the travel ban, Rep. Omar issued a statement, which read, in part:
“It is an affront that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, under pressure from President Trump, would deny entry to representatives of the U.S. government. Trump’s Muslim ban is what Israel is implementing, this time against two duly elected Members of Congress.”
“…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. 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.”
However, in CNN’s write-up of the controversy, the network published Omar’s statement without pushing back on her claims. To make the claim that the Israeli government is following President Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban” on travel is erroneous, as it is clear the Israeli government is barring individuals who do not respect the Israeli government because they want to boycott or sanction the Israeli government. The Israeli government is following its own laws in implementing the decision, while the so-called “Muslim ban” was an executive order and was not done through legislative action.