Reps. Omar and Tlaib are being blocked supposedly because they support the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. The extent of that support is debatable, but even if it were wholehearted, the BDS movement is not the antisemitic hate-fest that right-wingers like to say it is. It is supported by tens of thousands of Jews. It is nonviolent. And it is a response to Israel’s 50-year occupation of the West Bank and refusal to negotiate in good faith with Palestinian leaders.
One need not support BDS (as I have written many times, I do not) to recognize that it is a valid form of political expression aimed at righting a massive injustice being done to millions of innocent people. If anything, Trump’s ultra-nationalism makes the case for BDS more urgent, not less.
Next, even if BDS were somehow objectionable, Trump and his ilk have slandered Omar and Tlaib far beyond anything having to do with it. “They hate Israel & all Jewish people,” Trump tweeted last week (a claim he repeated in his Tweet Thursday). And of course, Trump has infamously jeered that the two should “go back” to their home countries–which in Tlaib’s case is Michigan. Her ancestral home is Palestine, as Trump is blocking her from “going back.”
Finally, the very notion that Israel, a supposedly democratic country, bans people from entering based on a political opinion is, as my fellow rabbis like to say, a shanda. A scandal. A disgrace. Repugnant. Vile.