Yesterday, Israel reversed a previous decision and determined that two Israel-hating congresswomen — Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib — would not be permitted to visit the country. It relied on a law that forbids the entry of people calling for and acting to place a boycott on Israel. However, it seemed clear, at least to me, that President Trump’s hand was the decisive factor in Israel’s decision.
Tlaib responded to Israel’s decision with a letter to the government requesting to see her 90-year-old grandmother, a Palestinian who lives in the West Bank. She promised in her letter that she would “respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit.”
Israel agreed that Tlaib could visit, conditioned on the pledge in her letter not to advocate a boycott of Israel while in the country.
Tlaib then reversed her position and refused to accept this condition. She stated:
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 about what is happening in the State of Israel and to Palestinians living under occupation with United States support.
Tlaib added, melodramatically, that visiting her family under such “oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother’s heart.”
Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, who approved Tlaib’s request to visit based on humanitarian grounds, called Tlaib’s decision not to visit a provocation. If he feels that Tlaib set him (and Israel) up, it’s understandable.
She put Israel in a no-win situation. If Israel denied her request to visit her grandmother, it would appear cruel and heartless.
If Israel agreed, conditioned on her adhering to the pledge she made not to advocate a boycott while in the country, she could then “change her mind” and revoke her pledge — as she has done. In this scenario, Tlaib would enhance her status as a martyr.
I think, though, that Tlaib simply changed her mind. She came in for criticism from fellow Israel-haters for saying she wouldn’t advocate a boycott during her visit, and probably couldn’t stand that heat.
Either way, Tlaib’s manipulative and/or erratic behavior confirms the wisdom of yesterday’s decision to keep her out. Had she been allowed in, her fertile mind would have produced a series of stunts and provocations designed to make Israel look bad.
Now, instead of a series of such moves, Tlaib will only be able to pull off today’s.