After being barred from entering Israel on Aug. 15, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) submitted a humanitarian request to visit her aging grandmother in the West Bank, and Israel’s interior minister approved it.
But Tlaib changed her mind on Aug. 16, saying that in the end she could not enter Israel “under these oppressive conditions.”
“Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me,” Tlaib tweeted. “It would kill a piece of me. I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in — fighting against racism, oppression & injustice,”
Tlaib and fellow Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) were barred from making a planned visit to Israel on Aug. 18 because of their declared support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the Jewish state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to apply his country’s 2017 law, which bans foreigners who publicly support Israel boycotts, to the two congresswomen.
But Israel still allows humanitarian requests as exceptions to the law. In her request submitted on Aug. 15, Tlaib had asked to visit the West Bank to see her grandmother, who is in her 90s, saying it could be her “last opportunity to see her.”
She promised not to promote the boycott movement against Israel while there. “I will respect any restrictions and will not promote any boycotts against Israel during my visit,” she wrote.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri quickly approved Tlaib’s request on Aug. 16. But Tlaib tweeted her change of heart just before 9 a.m. Eastern time the same day.
Omar, who likened Israel’s decision to bar her to President Donald Trump’s travel ban against specific predominantly Muslim countries, will still not be allowed to visit.
Gabe Friedman writes for the JTA international news agency and wire service.