Tlaib backs out of West Bank trip to visit family, accuses Israel of 'silencing' her

Dylan Stableford
Senior Editor

After Israel granted her request for a “humanitarian” visit to her Palestinian grandmother, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., said Friday she wouldn’t make the trip after all.

Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., had been barred from making an official trip to the West Bank. To receive permission to visit her family, Tlaib had to promise not to promote the boycott movement against Israel while she was there.

“In my attempt to visit Palestine, I’ve experienced the same racist treatment that many Palestinian-Americans endure when encountering the Israeli government,” Tlaib said in a lengthy statement Friday, a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reversed his government’s earlier stance of allowing Tlaib and Omar to visit. President Trump had urged Netanyahu to bar the women.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photo: AP)

Omar and Tlaib, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, are outspoken critics of Israel’s policies toward Palestinians and vocal supporters of the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement. They were scheduled to arrive in the region on Sunday on a trip that was to include stops in the Palestinian cities of Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah, near where Tlaib’s grandmother lives.

Tlaib then sent a letter to Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri asking to visit her grandmother, saying she would “respect any restrictions” and would “not promote boycotts against Israel” during her trip.

The request was granted on “humanitarian grounds,” but then Tlaib backed out of the trip, and accused the Israeli government of using her family as leverage against her.

“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 – reflecting just how undemocratic and afraid they are of the truth my trip would reveal,” she wrote. “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.”

In response, Deri said that “it seems that her hatred of Israel is greater than her love for her grandmother.”

In barring Tlaib and Omar, Netanyahu cited Israel’s 2017 anti-boycott law, which provides for excluding foreign nationals who support a boycott of the Jewish state.

An hour before Netanyahu’s announcement, Trump tweeted that “it would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit.”

“They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds,” the president added. “Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!”

Speaking to reporters in Morristown, N.J., before heading to a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Thursday night, Trump would not say whether he spoke to Netanyahu before Israel’s decision was announced.

“But I did speak to people over there,” Trump said.

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