In The News

By Ramsey Touchberry

The decision by Israel to ban two Muslim congresswomen from entering the country after tweets from President Donald Trump led some Jewish groups to lambast the decision, saying the move only exacerbated current divisions between the minority Democrats and the Jewish state.

“The fact that the U.S. president would urge the Israeli prime minister to bar members of Congress really does a disservice to this bilateral relationship and is yet another attempt by President Trump to politicize this relationship,” Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, told Newsweek.

She called the move as “unprecedented,” saying that “never before have U.S. members of Congress been barred from entering Israel…”

Soifer and other Jewish groups argued that banning the congresswomen is “counterproductive,” with Soifer going a step further to say it “plays into Trump’s goal of politicizing support for Israel.” She made clear that her group has “vocally disagreed” with Omar and Tlaib on their decisions to side with Palestine over Israel. But Soifer stressed that, without them being able to visit, the lawmakers would miss out on an important opportunity to perhaps allow them to gain a better understanding for Israel and its citizens.

“It is important that they have this opportunity to see the facts on the ground. It is critical to actually live it and to see the realities that Israelis and Palestinians live with each day. A willingness to listen and experience and learn is important for any individual, especially members of Congress. That is, in effect, why members travel,” Soifer said. “Now, do I think it would have changed their views? I don’t know. I don’t know. But it at least would have helped to inform them.”