Banning U.S. Congresspersons from Israel

18 Aug

Banning U.S. Congresspersons from Israel

The decision to ban, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, two sitting members of the U.S. House of Representatives, disgraces the leaders of both the United States and Israel, confirms the illegitimacy of both political parties by their tepid responses, and confirms once more the unhealthy relationship that has evolved between Trump and Netanyahu, these two most reactionary of political figures, and badly reflects on the political atmosphere in the countries they represent.  For an American president to encourage a foreign government to deny entry to elected members of Congress is not only unprecedented, harmful to the quality of democratic life in America, and represents a wrongful and extremely distasteful use of his position to engage in nasty partisan reelection politics aimed at the 2020 elections. This outrageous display of further impeachable behavior by Trump is further accentuated by the defamatory, as well as maliciously and demonstrably false assertions in this notorious tweet that Ilhan Omar and Rashid Tlaib, hate Israel and all Jews, and nothing can alter their views.


For Netanyahu, the leader of Israel, to reverse an earlier decision to allow these U.S. officials to enter the country in response to Trump’s tweet has just the reverse effect of what is claimed. By seeming to forego Israel sovereign rights in response to an inappropriate interference in Israeli public policy by the American Head of State, Netanyahu reveals to the world Israel’s weakness, not its strength, and in the process casts a dark shadow over Israel own claims of political legitimacy. As well, to give way in this unseemly manner to Trump may also prove to be a tactical blunder in the Israeli context even if it contributes one more sordid chapter to their quid pro quo relationshiip. Such a craven move by Netanyahu miight turn off just enough Israeli voters to tip the balance against the Likud Party in the forthcoming September 17thelections. Not only was Trump’s tweet an effective assault on Israeli sovereign rights, but it also undermines the long absurd propaganda claims of Israel to be a democratic state that values and protects freedom of expression.


After further political turmoil, Israel appeared to relent, but by affixiing humiliating conditions, and then only with respect to Rashida Tlaib. The Israeli Minister of Interior, Aryeh Deri, agreeing to a ‘humanitarian’ visit provided the Congresswoman agreed not to promote boycotts of Israel while in the country, her visit restricted to the sole purpose of visiting her 90-year-old grandmother in a small Palestinian village not far from Ramallah. After initially accepting these constraints over the intense objections of her supporters and even her family back in Palestine, Rep. Tlaib reversed her own acceptance of the Israeli conditions, issuing a statement denouncing the constraints she earlier accepted, and refusing to restrict her time in her own Palestinian homeland to a personal visit. Of course, an Israeli rebuke followed from Deri, claiming that her rejection of Israel’s humanitarian gesture exhibits the Israeli-bashing intent that motivated the factfinding visit. Deri hammered one more nail in Tlaib’s already exposed flesh: “Apparently her hate for Israel overcomes her love for grandmother.” More understandably, Tlaib also was rebuked by many Palestinians for initially accepting Israel’s conditions intense objections to her face from supporters, alleging that she fell into Israel’s trap, “and accepted to demean herself and grovel.”


Seeking to thread this needle separating an ill-timed family ties from her high-profile political image, Tlaib chose these words, “Silencing me and treating me like a criminal is not what she [her grandmother] wants for me—it would kill a piece of me.” Although Tlaib used poor judgment by first agreeing to Israel’s acceptance, her statement explaining her reversal a short time later, had a redemptive effect. Perhaps, more disturbing, was Tlaib’s failure to sustain a posture of public solidarity with Ilhan Omar, whose relevance was ignored in Tlaib’s three-step dance movement.


The distractions caused by this secondary development involving Tlaib should not be allowed to divert attention from the primary outrage resulting from the Trump tweet and Israeli gag order imposed on nonviolent advocates of the BDS Campaign, which in this instance meant banning entry to elected U.S. government officials, supposedly a super-ally.


In my view Israel’s decision to ban these two members of Congress can at best be considered ‘an unfriendly act’ by Israel toward its unconditional ally. This alone should persuade a self-respecting U.S. Congress to react with much more than a few empty words of disapproval. At the very least, a message of censure should be formally endorsed by the House of Representatives, and delivered to the Israeli government, which strongly discourages further visits to Israel by members of Congress until Israel announces a policy of allowing entry any American official to visit Israel without restrictions. Perhaps, a more suitable alternative would be to urge banning members of the Knesset until Israel welcomes as visitors any and all members of the UN Congress without conditions. A further appropriate step would be to condition any approval of future military or economic assistance to Israel on lifting the ban on future visits by government officials, but also ideally by all American citizens regardless of political views; After all, American taxpayers have long paid their share of the annual aid package of at least $3.8 billion, the greatest per capita amount given to any country in the world.

I believe that by singling these two members of Congress, who happen to be the first two Muslim women ever elected to the House of Representatives, in the manner of Trump’s tweet is a clear instance of racism and hate speech, especially considered in light of his past hostile statements directed at prominent women of color who dare enter political life and oppose his presidency, including his past slanders of these two brave individuals. The language of Trump’s tweet also sought successfully to interfere with their effort to engage in a legitimate legislative undertaking in a discriminatory manner, and included this inflammatory and false allegation: “They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds.” The tweet ends with this shocking expression of hostility that demeans Trump and the Office of the Presidency rather than its intended targets, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. Trump’s final tweeted words– “They are a disgrace!” It is best understood as “You are disgraced.”


The media at least gave major attention to this unfolding political drama, although more in the spirit of narrating a human interest story than offering a damning commentary on the anti-democratic moves of these two ‘illiberal democrats.’ Tom Friedman, never foregoing a chance to deliver fence-setting know-it-all lectures to whomever would listen, managed staked out some liberal territory by condemning the tactical damage to their own countries and especially to the ‘special relationship’ between them as a result of making the Republicans the true friends of Israel, and the Democrats not so clear, hence fraying the edges of bipartisanship when it comes to support for Israel. Friedman also took the opportunity to make it clear that in his view Tlaib and Omar were not better due to their ill-considered support for BDS, which he argued dooms to two-state liberalism, and implies that by their criticism of Israel, the excluded officials are widening Jewish/Islamic cleavages rather than building bridges. [See Friedman, “If You Think Trump is Helping Israel, You’re a Fool,” Aug. 16, 2019]

Such misleading pontificating, which we should know is the standard offering of Friedman in his opinion pieces that reek of vanity and pro-establishment moralizing. It is part and parcel of the overall Zionist strategy of diverting attention from Israeli wrongdoing and criminality by discrediting the victim while airbrushing the oppressor. Here, those in genuine solidarity with sustained peace for the two peoples will not be distracted by such prevarications from the underlying encroachments on freedom of expression and the rights of an ethnically cleansed people to return to their homeland as a matter of right.




22 Responses to “Banning U.S. Congresspersons from Israel”

  1. Don E. Scheid August 18, 2019 at 11:15 am #

    Hi Richard,
    I think it should be obvious that it is simply contrary to the spirit of democracy for one country to ban Congresspersons from another country. At least among democratic countries, there should always be free and open movement and exchange of government officials, as there should always be a free exchange of ideas. (We even allow Republicans to visit Minnesota, although Democrat Amy Klobuchar is running for President!!) If nothing else, democracies should stick together. –Don E. Scheid

    • Sean Breathnach August 18, 2019 at 3:18 pm #

      “If nothing else, democracies should stick together.”
      Israel may call itself a democracy but it is not a democracy for all its citizens. As for sticking together, hasn’t America backed Israel to the hilt, in its brutal illegal occupation of the Palestinians. Israel and AIPAC have been to the fore corrupting the American Congress. Recently 72 Congresspeople have visited Israel on an all expenses paid holiday.

      • Mike 71 August 19, 2019 at 8:35 pm #

        All Israeli citizens, Arabs,Christians, Druze and Jews, are entitled to vote in Israeli national elections. It is those who are not citizens, just like in the U.S. or elsewhere, who are not entitled to vote.

        In contrast, citizens of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in Gaza are not allowed to vote for their leadership, having held no elections since 2007. P.A. President for Life, Abbas, now in the 15th year of the four year term to which he was elected in 2005. recently abolished the Palestinian Legislature, which has not met since 2007, when the majority of seats were captured by Abbas’ Hamas opponents. When will Palestinians be able to practice democracy and elect their own leadership? Who knows?
        But under the current leadership, that is not likely in the foreseeable future!

      • Beau Oolayforos August 21, 2019 at 3:18 pm #

        wow…ALL expenses paid? Let’s dream…luxury hotels, swimmin’ pools, all-you-can-eat buffets? Inform us, O ye legal minds, if this ain’t bribery, then what the hell is?

      • Mike 71 August 22, 2019 at 10:11 am #


        I don’t know what the agenda for the tour promoted for Democrat Congress members invited to tour Israel consists of. But Miftah, the pro-terrorist Palestinian group, headed by Hanan Ashwari, which offered to sponsor Reps. Omar and Tlaib, had to apologize for and take down Anti-Semitic content from their website. Could MS. Ashwari’s organization afford to provide all expenses paid luxury hotels with swimming pools and all you can eat buffets for Reps. Omar and Tlaib? That depends on the size of Miftah’s Iranian subsidy. Given the fact that due to trade sanctions, Iran has been cutting back on its subsidies to Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and various Iranian Shi’ite proxies, they have most likely cut subsidies to Miftah, as well. One thing, however, that we can all be certain of is that MS. Ashwari is not squandering Miftah funds on makeup and beauty aids.

    • Richard Falk August 19, 2019 at 3:11 am #

      Hi Don:

      Of course I would agree, and would add that here the Palestinian identity of Rep. Tlaib
      adds a layer of legal and moral concern. Conditioning her right of entry to her own homeland
      is an affront to the minimal duties of hospitality owed by sovereign states as Kant in a different
      context made clear in PERPETUAL PEACE, and vitiates the self-serving claim of ‘humanitarianism’ made
      by the Israeli Minister of Interior.

      with greetings from Turkey,


      • Don E. Scheid August 19, 2019 at 8:56 am #

        To Breathnach: So you think U.S. Congresspeople should NOT visit Israel? And that its OK for Israel to ban US Congressional visits, thus dividing the two countries? –Don Scheid

      • Don E. Scheid August 19, 2019 at 8:57 am #

        Hi Richard,

        I couldn’t have said it better. I fully agree; Kant had this right.
        Cheers, Don E. Scheid

  2. Beau Oolayforos August 18, 2019 at 1:05 pm #

    Dear Professor Falk,

    I can’t help wishing that Ms Tlaib would have gone and seen her grandmother despite the conditions, but of course she has her own good reasons. As usual, Trump is the main stinker in all this, and the human story can be re-told thousands (millions?) of times over, with migrant families torn apart – shades of the slave-market days – , with loved ones separated by the Liar-In-Chief’s Beautiful Wall, children who will NEVER be able to visit their dying parents, grandparents, nor will those elders, on their death-beds, know the last caresses of their cherished little ones…oh, thank you, ye Men of Power…

    • Mike 71 August 19, 2019 at 9:04 pm #


      Rep. Tlaib should have been allowed to go to Israel to visit her grandmother, but in an all around “comedy of errors,” some on the part of President Trump and some on the part of Rep. Tlaib herself, that never happened. She could have gone on the bi-partisan trip arranged for Democrats with Rep. Steny Hoyer, which would have been non-controversial, but when Trump pressured Netanyahu to cancel her proposed private visit, that opportunity collapsed. When offered a Humanitarian Visa to visit her grandmother, on the condition that she not engage in political provocations, Rep. Tlaib at first accepted, but when pressured by Palestinian activists, she reversed course and rejected the opportunity to visit her grandmother. If given the opportunity to reconsider, Rep. Tlaib should accept the Humanitarian Visa for a quiet visit with her grandmother. That opportunity is unlikely to ever come again. Echoing Golda Meir’s statement that “Peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us,” Minister of the Interior, Aryeh Deri noted that that “Rep. Tlaib’s hatred of Israel overcame her love for her grandmother.” The fact that hatred came between a final family visit is perhaps, the greatest tragedy and “comedy of errors” of them all!

      • Beau Oolayforos August 20, 2019 at 11:21 am #

        a tired repeat of old hasbarist tripe, like “Israelis love life, while the Arabs love death”, intoned by old Milwaukee schoolteachers, among many others. Yes, your adversaries are pretty much sub-human in their callousness, eh?

      • Mike 71 August 21, 2019 at 2:33 pm #


        One need only read P.L.O. and Hamas tropes, as expressed in their founding documents, easily found online. The Palestinians love death and are willing to sacrifice their lives for empire, while Israelis love life. As Interior Minister Aryeh Deri put it, “Rashida Tlaib’s hatred of Israel overcame her love of her grandmother.” If Rep. Tlaib is willing to sacrifice what is probably her last opportunity to see her aged grandmother, that is her decision; she could have chosen otherwise, but decided not to. If she truly loved her grandmother, she is certain to have regrets in the coming years, which she will no doubt, blame on the Israeli government. Hatred is a negative emotion which causes people to act in ways which they will later regret!

      • Fred Skolnik August 21, 2019 at 3:58 am #

        We’ll see how sarcastic you are when it’s your children who get blown up in a bus or restaurant, eh?

      • Richard Falk August 21, 2019 at 6:14 am #

        This is not the first time you try to insulate Israel from justifiable criticisms by trying to silence its critics. Proclaiming an unconditional exemption from accountability is a rather cheap polemical trick. An insistence on impunity does not exempt Israel. It is completely self-serving, and totally avoids responsibility for the daily ordeal inflicted upon the Palestinian people.

      • Mike 71 August 21, 2019 at 2:07 pm #

        Nobody is trying to insulate Israel from justifiable criticism; the Israeli public and media do that on a consistent basis every day. However, Palestinians who suffer under the kleptocratic Palestinian Authority and those who suffer under Hamas misrule and infringement of their right to protest, do not share that right.

        Criticism of terrorist actions which deliberately target Israeli civilians in violation of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and Israel’s invocation of the right to self-defense, pursuant to Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, recognizing an “inherent right to individual, or collective self-defense” are always justified, even though you will always disapprove of them.

        Proclaiming an unconditional exemption from criticism of Palestinian terrorism, “rejectionism” and refusal to negotiate directly with Israel on the issues of borders, security and recognition is absolutely a cheap polemical trick. A decision to make no decision, engage in no negotiations and outright reject any negotiated peaceful resolution of the conflict, is a decision to acquiesce in the status-quo.Nothing changes because the Palestinian do not want it to change, nor will it change until Palestinians want it to change!

      • Fred Skolnik August 21, 2019 at 6:31 am #

        I have no idea who you are addressing. If it’s me, I am certainly not trying to silence anyone, It’s you who presses the delete button when you don’t have a winning reply. I am responding to the assertions of these critics. In Beau’s case I am responding to his smug sarcasms about what is for me and my famiily a real matter of life and death.

        As for the rest, the daily ordeal of the Palestinians is the ordeal of a people who started and lost a war, refused to make peace and engages in acts of terrorism. To shift the blame to Israel you have to corrupt an entire lexicon of commonly understood terms of opprobrium where a blockade becomes collective punisjment, a military occupation becomes apartheid, self-defense become a war crime, and anti-terrorist measures become Nazism. No country on earth and certainly not Israel is going to allow a neighboring people to fire thousands of rockets at its civilian population and murder its citizens in the street whenever they get a chance to.

      • Beau Oolayforos August 25, 2019 at 4:54 pm #

        Thanks for talking up Miftah – the more I read about them, the better I like them. And of course, Ms Ashwari is a widely respected figure in world politics. Their adversaries are the usual suspects: Fox News, The Daily Caller, ad nauseum; and, of course, your honored self.

  3. Israel has no right to exist in occupied Palestine August 22, 2019 at 2:56 pm #

    Mike 71 and Fred Skolnik have been exposed as Zionist trying to protect an apartheid and criminal entity. No one pays any attention to Israel’s protectors including that Jewish mafia pimp, Trump.

    Israel and Trump are criminals where Trump has become a laughing stock All Over the World. Israel and Trump good for each other and soon will go into a garbage can.

    • Mike 71 August 23, 2019 at 11:32 pm #

      Israel has as much right to retain disputed land captured in “defensive wars of necessity,” as the Soviet Union did in occupying land previously invaded by the Third Reich in World War II. “Palestine” is a fictional entity, consisting of two warring enclaves, which rejected U..N. General Assembly Resolution 181, which would have recognized their statehood as part of a two state partition, and despite repeated Egyptian mediation efforts, failed to form a “Unity Government.” If that Resolution, UNGAR 181, is not binding on the supposed “Palestinians,” neither is it, nor any other U.N.Resolution, binding on the Israelis, who had accepted the Resolution and was recognized as a U.N. nation-state member in 1949. As a U.N. nation-state member, Israel is entitled to invoke its “Inherent right of individual, or collective self-defense,” as recognized under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter. U.N. Resolutions cannot be selectively enforced against some parties, but not against others!

      Due to avarice, bigotry and Imperial ambitions, the Arab League initiated wars against Israel in 1948-49, 1967 and 1973, all of which they lost. With the exceptions of Egypt and Jordan, which negotiated separate peace agreements with Israel, most of the Arab League has refused to reject the infamous “Three Noes (No negotiation, recognition, or peace with Israel)” of the 1967 Khartoum Conference, ensuring that the Israeli possession of disputed land continues. As long as the conflict remains exclusively a “one to the exclusion of the other” proposition, and the two (or given Palestinian divisions, three state) solution is not an option for Palestinians, Israel is just as entitled to become the “single state solution,” in order to preserve its rights to sovereignty, self-determination, political independence, territorial integrity and right to exist within secure and recognized boundaries. See: UNSCR 242 and 338.

      Following the 1967 “Six Day War” victory, Israel made two offers for resolution of the conflict, offering return of over 90% of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), which were rejected respectfully by Yasser Arafat (2001) and Mahmoud Abbas (2008), without any counter-offer, or offer to negotiate. In those decisions, in effect “decisions to make no decision,” Palestinians in effect acquiesced in Israeli retention of captured land, which they could have obtained through negotiation. As the victorious belligerent of the “Six Day War,” Israel may retain possession of captured land until possession is modified by treaty. See: (Latin: As you possess, you may possess hereinafter)

      In an “Orwellian Inversion (peace is war, poverty is plenty and ignorance is strength),” Palestinians seek to impose a 20% minority “Arab Supremacist Apartheid Regime” on a 75% majority Jewish Israeli population. How that would differ from the former “Apartheid South Africa,” once ruled by a 10% minority “White Supremacist Apartheid Regime” over a 90% Black and Mixed Race majority, they refuse to explain. The majority of Arab League states are already “Apartheid States,” tolerating no Jews, Christians, Gays, Trans People, or other minorities within their populations. Just as South Africans are entitled to democratic majority rule in. their nation, Israelis are entitled to the same rights in theirs.

      In 30 years, the State of Israel will celebrate its centennial. If in that time, Palestinians refuse to negotiate a two (or three) state agreement, it could be credibly argued that in refusing to negotiate peace, they have forfeited the land lost in the 1967 “Six Day War.” Hugo Grotius, the father of International Law, recognized the right of conquest in his “Law of War and Peace.” Israel will have prevailed under the doctrine of Uti Possidetis Juris, having acquired the borders of the former British Mandate!

  4. Don't trust US agent chomksy a zionist September 3, 2019 at 3:05 pm #

    Noam Chomsky is a fraud and charlatan and US agent

    Once Again Chomsky and Achcar Provide a Service to the US Global Dictatorship

    Expose the imposter chomsky

    • Mike 71 September 3, 2019 at 11:12 pm #

      I agree in part and disagree in part. Yes, Chomsky is a fraud and a charlatan; but he is also a Neo-Marxist self-hating Jew. Does he oppose the existence of the State of Israel? Yes, but most Israelis recognize Zionism as the national liberation movement of the Jewish People, just as most Vietnamese recognized the National Liberation Front as the liberation movement of the Vietnamese people. Both peoples were justified in. the use of “armed struggle” to win their national independence from Imperial aggressors! For the Vietnamese, the struggle ended in victory; for the Israelis, the struggle continues!

  5. chomksy cannot be trusted September 3, 2019 at 3:06 pm #

    Once Again Chomsky and Achcar Provide a Service to the US Global Dictatorship

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