Yesterday, the Government of Israel announced that Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar will not be allowed entry into the Palestinian territories. While the denial of entry of Members of Congress by a self-described ally nation is shocking, Arab Americans like Representatives Omar and Tlaib have been systematically and regularly targeted and subjected to unjust screening, harassment, detention, and deportation when attempting to enter Israel and Palestine for decades. Still, this shameful move came only hours after President Trump, in an unprecedented statement, all but urged Israel to prevent the Congresswomen from entering. Think about that for a moment: The President of the United States is urging a foreign country to punish American lawmakers (duly elected to represent the American people) because he disagrees with them. As the ACLU put it, it’s outrageous. Israel’s decision actually demonstrates the very apartheid they were hoping to hide: By preventing U.S. lawmakers from visiting Palestine (without the Palestinians having a say in the matter), they’ve proven the Palestinian people are a captive population without freedom or control over their own lives. Israel offered a “humanitarian exemption" for Tlaib to visit her elderly grandmother in exchange for Tlaib promising not to promote the BDS campaign while there. Rather than convey generosity, this exemption only highlights a disconcerting reality in which an American lawmaker must restrict her free speech in order to be allowed to visit her family in lands unlawfully controlled by Israel. In what must have been a difficult decision, Tlaib rejected a visit under these humiliating conditions. Congresswoman Tlaib taught our country a great deal about the oppression of the Palestinian people without even setting one foot there. We can’t wait to see what might happen if she can go one day. We have to continue fighting for a free Palestine so that all people can visit without a permission slip from a foreign, tyrannical power that has no business controlling the Palestinian territories in the first place.

comments powered by Disqus