Axois is reporting that several administration sources have said that Pres. Trump has specifically urged his own staff and Israeli officials to deny entry to Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, who plan a study trip to Palestine in the near future:
Trump has told U.S. advisers, including senior Trump administration officials, that Israel should bar Omar and Tlaib’s entry because the two congresswomen favor a boycott of Israel, according to sources familiar with Trump’s private comments…
Trump told confidants he disagreed with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer’s rationale for Israel to overlook the law to let Omar and Tlaib visit Israel…Trump said that if Omar and Tlaib wanted to boycott Israel, “then Israel should boycott them,” according to a source with direct knowledge.
Israeli officials say congressional Democratic leadership pushed Dermer to allow the congresswomen into the country. Their advocacy, per those officials, is a major reason why Netanyahu will allow the two women in.
The Democrats had argued that if the Israeli government blocked Omar and Tlaib’s entry, then other Democratic members would cancel a planned, AIPAC-sponsored Israel trip in solidarity, these officials said.
This is Trump once again playing the role of spoiler. He knows that Democrats pressured Israel to permit the Congressional Women of Color of entry. He also knows that the Democratic Israel junket is already in Israel, and the Democrats have no recourse should Netanyahu change his mind and deny entry. Splitting these Democrats from progressive pro-Palestine insurgents will only further fragment the Democratic Party. Which is just what Trump wants.
Bibi owes Democrats nothing and would happily renege on the deal (he’s done so so many times before!). He also hates Democrats and has a trusted pal in Trump. So the key is Dermer and whether he feels any obligation to honor the deal he himself negotiated with Congressional Democrats. My guess is that he retains a tad more honor than his boss and that he will lobby Bibi to retain the agreement.
But I can tell you one thing, if Israel denies entry it will raise a huge stink even among pro-Israel Democrats. Even worse, it will strengthen the case of pro-Palestinian and BDS activists that Israel is an apartheid state which can’t be trusted to honor any agreement it makes with anyone, even putative allies like pro-Israel Democrats. Either way, progressives win on this one. If the two Congress members get to Palestine, they will disseminate their findings widely and the world will listen. If they are barred, they have an even larger platform to denounce their treatment at the hands of an apartheid regime afraid of its own shadow.
Further, it will strengthen opposition to anti-BDS legislation because Americans will realize that this campaign has denied American elected officials access to Palestine and prevented them from pursuing their foreign affairs and legislative duties. It will also point out the utter hypocrisy of Israel permitting members of Congress to visit Israel while refusing other members the right to visit Palestine. No amount of blather using BDS as an excuse for denial of access will be persuasive.
If Israel does deny entry, the onus will be on Congressional Democrats to respond forcefully given the betrayal of the agreement Dermer negotiated. Would they? Given how attenuated they are–how dependent on pro- Israel campaign cash–the issue is by no means certain. They could fold like a pack of cards. In which case the insurgent progressives in Congress would have shamed the corporate wing of the Party yet again. Or they could force Dermer and the Lobby to pay a cost by refusing to bring any delegation next year.
Joshua Laskin says
This whole idea of the Jewish state forbidding entry to (banishing) anyone who promotes the boycotting of the occupation, seems like a very traditional Jewish attitude, “herem”: cutting off (from the Jewish community) any Jew who doesn’t obey the Law of Yahweh. It’s the Jewish equivalent of Catholic ‘excommunication,’ and is related to the Arabic, “ḥarām,” forbidden. Israel would perhaps be more likely to refuse entry to Jews who oppose the occupation, than to Gentiles who may do so. “Self-hating Jew,” means, you’re not a real Jew; meaning, real Jews will cut you off, from the People; and, in this case, thus also from the Land. It feels like a classic Jewish reaction, to Jews who won’t bow down before Rabbinical authority; or in this case, Zionist authority. How far we’ve not come.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Joshua Laskin: I don’t agree. I think you’ve made a common error in conflating Judaism and Zionism. Yes the idea of herem is important in Judaism. Yes, it may have some meaning in this case. But no Jew would put a non-Jew in herem. Nor would Israel be more likely to refuse entry to Jews who support BDS. It has denied entry to Jews and non-Jews for holding ‘unpalatable’ political beliefs.
Further, the whole notion of self-hating Jew is not only repellant, I fight against it every day. I will not permit any Jew to judge me as insufficiently Jewish. And I’d rather this argument not be made in the comment threads; or at least not given any credence here.
[comment deleted: you have adopted a fraudulent handle (“Rizwan”). You are clearly neither Arab nor Palestinian. Yet you have adopted a fraudulent handle pretending to be. So many other poor pathetic hasbaroids have attempted to do the same here. It is not permissible. If you adopt a handle that is not fraudulent you may comment. If not, you can’t.
I’ve never had any anti-Zionists or commenters who are anti-Israel adopt a fake Israeli identity. I simply don’t understand the tactic. What’s the purpose other than pretending Arabs embrace hasbara tropes. But the whole notion is so infantile and stupid, why waste your time doing something so foolish??
These women are fearless..amazing. I hope they do go and report back about what they encounter and hear. It would be refreshing to have them hear the other side, something that the so called pro-Israel legislators do not allow themselves to have empathy for.
Perhaps another rare example of agreement between me and Richard.
It would be an act of breathtaking self-defeating stupidity for Israel to deny entry of any American official, regardless of their political views.
Beyond such an act being an unprecedented snub to Israel’s must important and supportive ally, it would open the door to other friendly countries “vetting” visiting Israeli officials because of their political views.
Israel fights tooth and nail for the freedom of its officials to travel anywhere to friendly countries.
This is classic Trump– stirring the pot, trying to divide political rivals, ignoring protocol, egging people on.
Undoubtedly, when Omar and Tlaib visit they will provoke incidents and draw a lot of negative attention to Israel but Bibi will just have to deal with it.
Hopefully Israeli officials will act smartly to minimize the damage. The visitors should be left to do what they want, as long as they don’t violate any laws.