Israeli Foreign Minister Ayre Deri slammed Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) on Friday after the congresswoman turned down a special waiver she received to visit her family in the West Bank.
Deri made the “final decision” to block Tlaib, along with fellow Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from visiting the Jewish state over their advocacy of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to politically and economically starve Israel over its alleged treatment of Palestinians.
The Israeli Knesset enacted anti-BDS legislation in 2017 that blocks foreign activists from gaining entry to the country; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cited the law when he announced the country’s decision.
“No country in the world respects America and the American Congress more than the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “As a free and vibrant democracy, Israel is open to critics and criticism with one exception: Israeli law prohibits the entry into Israel of those who call for and work to impose boycotts on Israel, as do other democracies that prohibit the entry of people who seek to harm the country.”
Her further noted that decision was made after the Israeli government received a copy of the congresswomen’s itinerary, which illustrated that the trip’s “sole objective is to strengthen the boycott against us” in an attempt “deny Israel’s legitimacy.”
However, following Israel’s decision to bar the duo, Tlaib followed up with a special humanitarian request to gain entry into the country in order to see her grandmother who lives in the West Bank. In a letter to Deri, the Michigan congresswoman stated the importance of visiting her aging grandmother and pledged not to promote any boycotts against Israel during her trip.
After Deri granted her request, Tlaib took to Twitter to announce that she would be abstaining from visiting the country and her aging grandmother due to Israel’s “oppressive [and] racist policies.”
“Silencing me [and] treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me,” Tlaib said referring to her grandmother. “It would kill of piece of me.”
“I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in – fighting against racism, oppression [and] injustice,” she added.
Deri fired back at Tlaib, stating that she hates the Jewish state even more than she loves a member of her own family.
“Rep. Tlaib just tweeted that she won’t be coming to Israel,” Deri explained. “Just yesterday she sent me a letter, asking to visit her 90 year old grandmother saying, ‘it might be my last chance to meet her.’”
“I approved her request as a gesture of good will on a humanitarian basis, but it was just a provocative request aimed at bashing the State of Israel,” he continued. “Apparently her hate for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother.”
Tlaib followed up with a press release accusing the Israeli government of using her “love and desire to see [her] grandmother” as a tool to silence her, which she further compared to the “racist treatment that many Palestinian Americans endure” from Israel.