President Donald Trump is taking his battle with progressive congresswomen to a new level, telling advisers he believes Israel should ban two Democrats from entry, Axios and other media report.
U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) are set to travel to Israel this month.
The Washington, D.C.-based Axios reports that Trump has told advisers he believes Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should bar the lawmakers using the country’s anti-boycott law. Tlaib and Omar favor a boycott of Israel due to its anti-Palestinian policies.
Trump and Netanyahu, who have both faced investigations into alleged corruption of their administrations, have forged a strong alliance, with both frequently targeting the media.
At a bipartisan congressional press conference Sunday in Jerusalem, U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said they believe Omar and Tlaib should be allowed to travel to Israel.
“I think it would be helpful for anyone that has an opinion to come,” McCarthy told the Times of Israel.
Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer agrees that he doesn’t believe that the congresswomen should be denied entry into Israel.
The U.S. House recently passed a resolution to condemn the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which Tlaib and Omar support. They are the first Muslim women to serve in Congress and they voted no.
Both Tlaib and Omar have been criticized for remarks they have made about Israel, particularly the latter’s February tweet, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” referring to the influence of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
Trump reportedly told advisers that Israel should “boycott” the congresswomen since they back a boycott of the country. Israel in 2017 passed a law requiring the interior minister to block foreign nationals from entering Israel if they support a boycott.
Trump spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham dismissed the report on Saturday with a familiar refrain from the administration that it was “fake news.”
Trump has been attacking the four members of the “Squad” as he seeks to bolster his re-election chances, tweeting last month that the Democratic congresswomen should “go back” to where they were born. Three members of the “Squad” — Tlaib, U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) — were born in the United States. Omar is a Somali refugee.
At a Trump North Carolina rally in July, supporters also broke into a “Send her back” chant about Omar.
Tlaib has been one of the earliest champions of Trump’s impeachment, declaring in January after being sworn in, “We’re gonna impeach the motherfucker!”
After the Democratic-led U.S. House passed a resolution in July condemning Trump’s racist remarks, Tlaib said, “We cannot allow the hateful and divisive words of this President be normalized, and I thank the House Democratic leadership for their swift action in condemning the President’s racist attacks on myself and three of my colleagues.”