Jewish Democratic group pushes Israel not to ban Omar, Tlaib

Jewish Democratic group pushes Israel not to ban Omar, Tlaib
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The Jewish Democratic Council of America on Thursday pushed back on President Trump’s support for the Israeli government potentially banning Democratic Reps. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarOcasio-Cortez celebrates 'squad' primary victories: 'The people triumphed' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - The choice: Biden-Harris vs. Trump-Pence Omar fends off primary challenge in Minnesota MORE (Minn.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOcasio-Cortez celebrates 'squad' primary victories: 'The people triumphed' Omar fends off primary challenge in Minnesota Centrists, progressives rally around Harris pick for VP MORE (Mich.) from visiting the Middle East country.

Council Executive Director Halie Soifer said such a move by the Israeli government would be counterproductive and “plays into President Trump’s goal of politicizing support for Israel.” 

Trump tweeted Thursday morning in support of Israel banning the Democratic lawmakers from visiting the country.

A senior Israeli official confirmed to The Washington Post that the Israeli government may block Omar and Tlaib’s trip to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories.

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“As strong supporters of Israel and of the U.S.-Israel relationship, we urge the government of Israel to reject President Trump’s unprecedented and ill-advised recommendation to deny Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib entry into Israel,” Soifer said in a statement.

“Banning members of Congress from visiting Israel, where they can see facts on the ground with their own eyes, is counterproductive and plays into President Trump’s goal of politicizing support for Israel.”

Tlaib and Omar have been outspoken critics of Israel and support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) against the country.

The two progressive freshman lawmakers have been scheduled to arrive in the country Sunday as part of a trip planned by a nonprofit organization, Miftah, headed by Palestinian lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi. 

A recently passed Israeli law denies entry visas to foreign nationals who publicly call for boycotts against Israel or its settlements in the West Bank.

By banning Omar and Tlaib from visiting, Soifer said Israel is “effectively forcing them to boycott.”

“Certainly, it is not the way to fight the global BDS movement, which we strongly oppose.”

J Street, a self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans” nongovernmental organization, also slammed Israel’s potential decision to deny Omar and Tlaib entry.

J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami called the move “dangerous, unacceptable and wrong.” 

“We may disagree with the views that the members hold on such questions as BDS or with Rep. Tlaib on the two-state solution, but the right approach for a state that values democracy is to welcome criticism and debate, not to shut it down,” Ben-Ami said in an emailed statement. 

He added that Trump’s tweeted support shows “this decision is motivated purely by politics and ideology — not by the interests of the State of Israel.”

Tlaib and Omar have been frequent targets of Trump's political attacks. He targeted them, along with Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezJared Kushner denies Trump 'promoting' questions about Kamala Harris Progressives look to flex their muscle in next Congress after primary wins Democrats hammer Trump for entertaining false birther theory about Harris MORE (N.Y.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyOcasio-Cortez celebrates 'squad' primary victories: 'The people triumphed' It's past time to be rid of the legacy of Jesse Helms Minneapolis Star Tribune endorses Ilhan Omar's primary challenger MORE (Mass), in a tweet last month telling the congresswomen to “go back” where they came from, despite all but Omar having been born in the U.S. 

At a later rally Trump supporters chanted “send her back” when the president renewed an attack on Omar. He later said he disagreed with the chant but praised members of the audience as "patriots."

Updated at 11:00 a.m.