Trump Pressures Israel Into Barring Congresswomen from Visiting
The Primary: President Trump tweets that it would “show great weakness” if Israel were to let Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib to enter their country. Following this urging, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, decides to bar the two representatives, reversing a previous decision to admit them.
Who? What? Why?: The decision to bar Reps. Omar and Tlaib comes after the two have been heavily criticized by Trump for their own criticism of Israel and support of the Palestinian state. In arguing that the Israeli state should be boycotted for its ill treatment of Palestinians, the two representatives have been labeled anti-Semitic by both Trump and Netanyahu. Reps. Omar and Tlaib are a part of a new wave of congresswomen nicknamed “The Squad,” who have previously butted heads with Trump, in particular when he told them to “go back where they came from.”
The Baseline: Netanyahu’s decision to follow Trump’s advice is an unprecedented extension of domestic dispute into international relations. The move shocked Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. who fear it could have long term effects on U.S.-Israel relations.
From the Left: Daniel Shapiro, Former Ambassador to Israel under Barack Obama, says the move shatters our “quaint notions” that the U.S. and Israel do not dabble in each other’s political affairs. He argues that Trump’s racism and Netanyahu’s dependency on U.S. support are the cause, and the real result is international exposure to the Palestinian cause, the opposite of what Trump and Netanyahu want.
From the Right: Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post focuses on the relationship between Israel and the two congresswomen, arguing that the barring shows the state’s inability to take criticism. Regardless of whether or not one agrees with Omar and Tlaib’s view, to disallow them from entering means breaking a fundamental principle of a free democracy, that criticism is to be welcomed and allowed.