Omar and Tlaib’s Publicity Stunt

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) have been busy since their aborted trip to Israel last week. On Monday, the Democratic lawmakers held a press conference at the Minnesota State Capitol, during which Tlaib tearfully recalled “dehumanizing” checkpoints during visits to Palestine as a child. Rep. Tlaib has also used the trip to fundraise, urging people to support the “fight for justice for all.”

It is increasingly obvious that Omar and Tlaib used the canceled trip as a publicity stunt to further promote the anti-Semitic BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanctions) movement.

Israel barred the two Democrats from entry by citing a 2017 law that bans supporters of the BDS movement from entering the country. The law was also used to deny entry to seven French politicians and EU parliamentarians in 2017.

The BDS movement calls for “ending [Israeli] occupation and colonization of all Arab lands,”  the removal of the wall in the West Bank, “full equality” for Arab Israelis, and the return of millions of descendants of Arab refugees. In order to accomplish these goals, BDS is attempting to isolate the Jewish State by boycotting companies that do business in Israel.

Cloaked in social-justice language and claiming to be a champion of oppressed Palestinians, the BDS movement ensnares well-meaning people. However, it is anti-Semitic, not merely anti-Zionist.

“The real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel… That should be stated as an unambiguous goal,” As’ad AbuKhalil, a leader of BDS, has stated. The Jewish Virtual Library has collected many statements from BDS leaders displaying the anti-Semitic motivations of the movement.

Omar Barghouti, the founder of BDS, when asked whether Jews were entitled to their own state, replied, “Not in Palestine.”

Omar and Tlaib are strong supporters of BDS.  Both representatives voted against a bi-partisan bill opposingBDS. In what the New York Times described as “a rare moment of House comity,” the bill passed overwhelmingly with 349 members voting in favor – and 17 (including Omar and Tlaib) voting against.

The Democratic representatives attempted to add legal protections to BDS by introducing a House Resolution protecting the “right to boycott in the United States.” Though the resolution does not mention BDS specifically, it is in response to 25 states passing laws to curtail the right to participate in the BDS movement.

With a well-documented history of advancing BDS, Omar and Tlaib could reasonably expect to be denied entry to Israel due to the 2017 law. However, Omar and Tlaib could still have visited Israel with 72 other members of the House on a recent trip sponsored by the American Israeli Education Foundation (AEIF). Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu permitted Omar and Tlaib entry “out of respect for Congress.”

Both congresswomen rejected the AEIF trip, instead accepting a trip organized by Miftah. Miftah, a Palestinian NGO, has celebrated terrorists, excused jihadist violence, and published an article accusing “the Jews [of using] the blood of Christians in the Jewish Passover.”

The itinerary planned by Miftah was titled, “Delegation to Palestine,” and did not include any meetings at the Knesset.

Even still, the Israeli government granted Tlaib access to the West Bank to visit her grandmother. Tlaib refused,stating “Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions to humiliate me would break my grandmother’s heart.” “Apparently her hate for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother,” Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri tweeted in response.

It is clear that Omar and Tlaib not only knew they would be denied entry but designed the trip to ensure it. Otherwise, the congresswomen would not have rejected the offer from AEIF, and Tlaib would have visited her grandmother. Instead, the Israeli government is facing a public relations mess, and Omar and Tlaib have a worldwide platform to promote BDS.

The question now is whether or not the Democratic party will allow two freshmen representatives to overturn a decades-long, bipartisan commitment to supporting Israel.

Morgan Wirthlin is Chief of Staff at the Center for Security Policy, located in Washington, D.C.

About Morgan Wirthlin

Morgan Wirthlin is the Chief of Staff at the Center for Security Policy. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Political Science.