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 OmarHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet Omar asks Twitter what it's doing in response to Trump spreading 'lies that put my life at risk' Trump seeks to expand electoral map with New Mexico rally MORE (Minn.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOmar says she hopes Netanyahu not reelected Bill Maher, Michael Moore spar over Democrats' strategy for 2020 Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight 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-CortezOcasio-Cortez mocks 'White House ethics' in Instagram post Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi set to unveil drug price plan | Abortion rate in US hits lowest level since Roe v. Wade | Dems threaten to subpoena Juul Kennedy to challenge Markey in Senate primary MORE (N.Y.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet Omar asks Twitter what it's doing in response to Trump spreading 'lies that put my life at risk' The Hill's Morning Report - Trump eyes narrowly focused response to Iran attacks 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.