If Omar can Boycott Israel, Why Can’t Israel Boycott Her?

Israel’s decision to bar the two U.S. lawmakers was a mistake, because it has given them a much bigger platform from which to attack Israel. But let’s be clear: There is nothing outrageous about Israel’s decision to bar entry to politicians who advocate its destruction. If Omar and Tlaib can boycott Israel, why can’t Israel boycott them?

Omar says Israel’s decision interferes with her ability to do her work “as a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.” Maybe so. But the problem is not that Israel barred entry to a member of that committee, but rather that there is an anti-Semite sitting on that committee. Omar has said that when she hears people call Israel a democracy, “I almost chuckle.” She has said “Israel has hypnotized the world“; has declared her hope that Allah will “awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel”; supports a boycott of Israel, a country she has compared to Nazi Germany; accused her House colleagues who support Israel of pushing “for allegiance to a foreign country”; and declared that support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins.” (She later apologized for the last comment, but not all the others, before or since that one.)

How is it that she continues to sit on the congressional committee that helps set U.S. policy toward Israel? When Rep. Steve King defended white-supremacist views, the GOP leadership in the House stripped him of his committee assignments and voted 424 to 1 on a resolution condemning the Iowa Republican. Yet, after Omar made virulently anti-Semitic comments, Democratic leaders in the House could not bring themselves to do the same. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) actually defended Omar’s “allegiance to a foreign country” remark, saying “I don’t believe it was intended in an anti-Semitic way.” I’m sorry, what other way could she have intended it? Can you imagine if Republicans had defended King, saying “I don’t believe it was intended in a white-supremacist way?”

Marc A. Theissen, “If Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib can boycott Israel, why can’t Israel boycott them?“, Washington Post, August 20, 2019

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