Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) will not visit her family in the West Bank despite receiving special permission from the Israeli government to do so because the Jewish country tried to "silence" her and treated her "like a criminal," the congresswoman said Friday morning.
Tlaib and fellow anti-Israel House freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) were denied entry into Israel on Thursday for their support of the anti-Israel BDS movement. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the duo's "sole purpose is to strengthen the boycott and delegitimize Israel" with the trip.
Tlaib, however, was later granted authorization to enter the country to visit her family, including her 90-year-old grandmother in the West Bank village of Beit Ur al-Fauqa, near Ramallah, "on humanitarian grounds."
"When I won, it gave the Palestinian people hope that someone will finally speak the truth about the inhumane conditions," Tlaib said in a pair of tweets. "I can't allow the State of Israel to take away that light by humiliating me & use my love for my [grandmother] to bow down to their oppressive & racist policies."
"Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me," Tlaib concluded. "It would kill a piece of me."
Tlaib's announcement was met with a swift response from Israel's interior minister, who approved her humanitarian application. The Israeli official called the decision "a provocation to embarrass Israel. Her hatred for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother."
In her letter about asking Israel for the humanitarian visit, Tlaib said that her grandmother's age added to the urgency of her request and that she would respect terms set by the country.
"This could be my last opportunity to see her," she wrote. "I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit."
Israeli law clearly states that people can be denied entry to the country if they or an organization they represent have called for a boycott against the country.
Fellow Democrats were not happy about Israel's decision Thursday to bar Omar and Tlaib.
"Banning Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib from entering Israel and Palestine is a sign of enormous disrespect to these elected leaders, to the United States Congress, and to the principles of democracy," Democratic 2020 hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) tweeted.
"No democratic society should fear an open debate," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) stated. "Many strong supporters of Israel will be deeply disappointed in this decision, which the Israeli government should reverse."
Several on the right were, by contrast, supportive of Israel's decision to deny entry to people who want to undermine and weaken the country.
"From my point of view, there have got to be consequences to your behavior," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said. "If you openly joined an international movement to destroy the state of Israel, then you'll suffer the consequences."
"Reps. Omar & Tlaib made it clear the only intention of their visit was to spew hate & advocate for policies that would actively undermine the Jewish state of Israel," House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) tweeted Thursday night. "Just like we expect people to respect our laws, Israeli law allows the government to block the entry of those who advocate for these destructive BDS policies, and we should respect their laws as well."