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Sewell calls Israel’s decision to block Tlaib, Omar from entering “outrageous and misguided”

Congresswoman Terri Sewell during a committee hearing. Office of Rep. Terri Sewell

Thursday after the government of Israel announced its decision to prevent Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from entering the country.

Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell, D-Selma, said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision was outrageous and misguided.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to deny Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar entry to Israel is both outrageous and misguided,” Sewell wrote in a statement. “When I first traveled to Israel, I learned about the nation’s critical importance in the region and gained unique insight into the security challenges and existential threats Israel faces. Our relationship with Israel is sacred and must be protected. Every Member of Congress should be able to share that experience firsthand, irrespective of their political views.”

Israel reportedly made the decision at the urging of President Donald Trump.

“Moreover, it is beneath the office of the presidency for President Trump to encourage foreign leaders to deny Members of Congress – and American citizens – entry into a foreign nation,” Sewell added. “I hope the Government of Israel will reverse its decision and allow Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar to visit and learn from our great ally.”

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said on social media that, “Israel’s denial of entry to Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib is beneath the dignity of the great state of #Israel.”

Pelosi said Trump’s Twitter, “Statements about the Congresswomen are a sign of ignorance and disrespect, & beneath the dignity of the office of the President of the United States.”

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The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) sent a statement to the Alabama Political Reporter condemning President Trump’s support for the Israeli government’s denial of entry to the two U.S. Muslim Congresswomen, preventing one from seeing her grandmother and both from acting as firsthand congressional observers of Israel’s anti-Palestinian segregationist policies and visiting one of the holiest sites in Islam.

CAIR added that they are urging all Americans who oppose the Israeli government’s discrimination to contact U.S. House Democratic leadership – and House Democratic Representatives who traveled this past week to Israel on a trip sponsored by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which they call an “anti-Palestinian lobby group” to express concern that the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid would deny entry to members of our own government and their party.

The Israeli government claims it will deny entry to Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) due to “suspected provocations and promotion of BDS.”
BDS refers to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions in support of Palestinian human rights.]

That announcement came after President Trump said Israel would be showing “great weakness” if it allowed the two members of Congress to enter Israel.

“It’s outrageous but not surprising that the Israeli government would decide to block U.S. Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from entering the country to act as firsthand congressional observers of Israel’s anti-Palestinian segregationist policies, see loved ones and to visit al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement. “Israel is exposed once again trying to silence voices who have spoken out against its segregationist political system, the occupation of the West Bank, the siege on Gaza, the demolition of Palestinian homes, the detention without charge or trial of Palestinian men, women and children, or the many other Israeli human rights abuses subsidized by American taxpayer dollars.”

“What is most surprising is that an American president would call on a foreign government to discriminate against and bar elected members of Congress,” Awad added. “Elected officials of all political parties must make a choice between supporting a foreign segregationist government occupying another people or backing two American Congresswomen of color who are being targeted by a racist, Islamophobic and white supremacist president.”

Sewell is serving her fifth term representing Alabama’s 7th Congressional District.

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Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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