Rabbi: Trump And Netanyahu Just Stooped To A New Low

Israel enabled Trump’s authoritarian retaliation against dissent from sitting congresswomen by blocking Omar and Tlaib’s visit.

Top: President Donald J. Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the United Nations General Assembly (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead). Bottom: Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) (Official Photos)

Top: President Donald J. Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the United Nations General Assembly (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead). Bottom: Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) (Official Photos)

I write as an American, a rabbi, a Jew, and a lover of Israel. I’m not a fan of the present Israeli government, but neither am I a fan of the present American administration. But today, both of these governments reached a new low. And I am ashamed of both.

Two duly elected representatives of the U.S. Congress, Ilhan Omar (D-MN)} and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), were barred entry into Israel.

Both congresswomen are Muslim and have been critical of Israel. They supported BDS, a boycott of Israeli products. That said, both Israel and the United States are democracies that support free speech. Further, there are Jews who agree with them. Disclaimer: I don’t agree with the boycott, but that is beside the point. Free speech means we do not have to agree.

This comes after weeks of racist attacks from President Trump on these congresswomen of color and calls for them to be sent back to their countries even though they’re citizens.

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Last month, when they announced their travel plans, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States announced: “Out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel,” Dermer told the Times of Israel.

The two women were due to arrive in Israel on Friday, August 16. The day before, on Thursday, August 15, the Israeli government abruptly canceled their plans. Why? It appears that President Trump is making decisions for Israel.

Three hours later, for good measure, the President added:

Shortly after the first tweet, Interior Minister of Israel, Aryeh Deri, announced that the two members of Congress would not be allowed entry. Then, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a similar announcement. He went further then Deri. He accused the women of planning a campaign against Israel, that they were coming to cause harm. The Prime Minister gave no basis for his accusations.

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The result of the Trump/Netanyahu decision has led to bilateral condemnation from Congress. As it should. These women are elected representatives of the U.S. government. Every leading Jewish organization jumped in to harshly criticize this. Even AIPAC, a conservative organization that supports Israel but does not involve itself in Israeli politics, took an unusual step. They tweeted:

Israel bowed to Trump and let a racist president make a decision that will rebound to Israel’s harm. Israel now appears racist and disrespectful of our democracy. Unless the Israeli government apologizes to ours and backtracks on today’s ban, they risk the anger of their only ally, the United States. Deferring to President Trump betrays a total lack of understanding of both our country as a whole and the American Jewish community.

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Opinion // Benjamin Netanyahu / Donald Trump / Ilhan Omar / Rashida Tlaib