Tlaib declines visit after Israel lifts ban

By: - August 16, 2019 9:55 am

Rashida Tlaib at the Women’s March in Detroit, Jan. 19, 2019 | Ken Coleman

Just hours after the Israeli government announced Friday that it would lift its previously announced ban and allow U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) to enter the country, she said she will not go through with her planned visit.

Rashida Tlaib | Andrew Roth

Israel’s interior minister, Aryeh Dari, approved a request Tlaib, who is Palestinian-American, submitted Thursday to enter the country and visit her 90-year-old grandmother living in the West Bank. Tlaib said in a letter that she would “respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit.”

But in a surprise reversal Friday morning, Tlaib responded with a statement in which she said the Israeli government’s “racist treatment … meant to humiliate” her has led her to cancel her visit.

“The Israeli government used my love and desire to see my grandmother to silence me and made my ability to do so contingent upon my signing a letter,” Tlaib wrote in a statement.

“I have therefore decided to not travel to Palestine and Israel at this time. Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother’s heart. Silencing me with treatment to make me feel less-than is not what she wants for me – it would kill a piece of me that always stands up against racism and injustice.”

The Israeli government announced Thursday it would bar Tlaib and U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the country for their support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Both Tlaib and Omar have long been outspoken advocates for the rights of Palestinians.

Tlaib, Trump, Omar
Rashida Tlaib (left), Donald Trump (center) and Ilhan Omar (right)

Before Israel announced its ban Thursday morning, President Donald Trump tweeted that the two representatives “hate Israel & all Jewish people” and that allowing them to visit would “show great weakness.”

In the aftermath of the ban, Tlaib responded publicly by tweeting that the decision to ban her was a “sign of weakness” in its own right, and drew the support of fellow members of Congress and presidential candidates including U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

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Derek Robertson
Derek Robertson

Derek Robertson is a former reporter for the Advance. Previously, he wrote for Politico Magazine in Washington. He is a Genesee County native and graduate of both Wayne State University, where he studied history, and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.