In response to reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reversing his decision to allow Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib into Israel, Daniel Sokatch, CEO of the New Israel Fund, released the following statement:
“When the Prime Minister of Israel uses political litmus tests at the border, he abandons Israeli democracy. This is the policy of despots and cowards, not democracies. This reckless decision serves only the political ends of Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump, not the people of Israel.
“Barring two American congresswomen demonstrates just how far the Netanyahu government extends its undemocratic entry policy. The government is demonstrating that the test for entering the country is a political one — either you agree with this government or you’re shown the door. Over the last few years, we have seen how the Israeli government has mobilized every ministry to mark its political enemies, sometimes its own citizens and legal residents, lifelong supporters, and visitors from many backgrounds. Refusing entry to Tlaib and Omar is an appalling escalation of a longstanding practice that has targeted visitors of Palestinian or Arab descent, and those who are not Jewish, with extra scrutiny at the border. Only this time, astonishingly, it targets Congresswomen who have been elected to the United States House of Representatives and places the American Jewish community and American citizens in an impossible position.
“This also shows that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is afraid of those who will not accept the status quo of occupation as a given. To refuse entry to critics of your policies shows only weakness. Only a government with something to hide would work this hard to keep out those with whom it disagrees.