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'It would kill a piece of me.' Rashida Tlaib cancels trip to Israel & Palestine

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Posted at 9:33 AM, Aug 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-16 17:24:43-04

(WXYZ) — Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib has shut the door on the possibility of an upcoming trip to Israel.

Earlier this week, the Israeli government banned both Rep. Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar from coming to the country for a planned trip to meet with residents in the West Bank. The government later opened the door to a “humanitarian visit” to allow Tlaib to visit with family, which would have banned her from the original trip schedule outside of family visits.

Initially, Tlaib sent a letter to request entry for the “humanitarian visit,” but appears to have had a change of heart after Israel granted her permission early Friday morning.

By written statement, Tlaib told 7 Action News that a visit would have been used to silence her — a move that she called undemocratic.

“Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother's heart,” said Rep. Tlaib. “Silencing me with treatment to make me feel less-than is not what she wants for me – it would kill a piece of me that always stands up against racism and injustice. “

Rep. Tlaib has been a vocal critic of Israel and supports the “Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement — she recently voted against a House resolution condemning the movement putting her at odds with a bipartisan majority. Previously, a law was passed barring supporters of the BDS movement from entering the country; however Israel had already stated it planned to allow the Congresswomen into the country.

The entire saga unfolded on the heels of a tweet from President Donald Trump, who seemed to urge Israel to deny both Tlaib and Omar entry. President Trump wrote that Israel would show “great weakness” by letting them in, putting Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu into a delicate position — he’s never publicly disagreed with Trump.

"The plan of the two Congresswomen is only to damage Israel and to foment against Israel," Netanyahu said.

Both Tlaib and her Palestinian relatives have been vocal about the ban, the Congresswoman spoke about it during a town hall event at Salem High School in Canton Friday night.

“The Israeli government used my love and desire to see my grandmother to silence me and made my ability to do so contingent upon my signing a letter – reflecting just how undemocratic and afraid they are of the truth my trip would reveal about what is happening in the State of Israel and to Palestinians living under occupation with United States support.”

Read her full statement below:

In my attempt to visit Palestine, I’ve experienced the same racist treatment that many Palestinian-Americans endure when encountering the Israeli government. In preparation for my visit, my grandmother was deciding which fig tree we would pick from together, while Palestinians and Israelis who are against the illegal military occupation were looking forward to Members of Congress finally listening to and seeing them for the first time. The Israeli government used my love and desire to see my grandmother to silence me and made my ability to do so contingent upon my signing a letter – reflecting just how undemocratic and afraid they are of the truth my trip would reveal about what is happening in the State of Israel and to Palestinians living under occupation with United States support.



“I have therefore decided to not travel to Palestine and Israel at this time. Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother's heart. Silencing me with treatment to make me feel less-than is not what she wants for me – it would kill a piece of me that always stands up against racism and injustice.



“When I won the election to become a United States Congresswoman, many Palestinians, especially my grandmother, felt a sense of hope, a hope that they would finally have a voice. I cannot allow the Israeli government to take that away from them or to use my deep desire to see my grandmother, potentially for the last time, as a political bargaining chip. My family and I have cried together throughout this ordeal; they’ve promised to keep my grandmother alive until I can one day reunite with her. It is with their strength and heart that I reiterate I am a duly elected United States Congresswoman and I will not allow the Israeli government to humiliate me and my family or take away our right to speak out. I will not allow the Israeli government to take away our hope.



“Racism and the politics of hate is thriving in Israel and the American people should fear what this will mean for the relationship between our two nations. If you truly believe in democracy, then the close alignment of Netanyahu with Trump's hate agenda must prompt a re-evaluation of our unwavering support for the State of Israel. The denial of entry of a congressional delegation is not only about Congresswoman Omar and I, but also about the deep-rooted racism within Israel that is taking us further away from peace. The Israeli and Palestinian people need us to be more courageous and to be honest brokers of peace. Being silent and not condemning the human rights violations of the Israeli government is a disservice to all who live there, including my incredibly strong and loving grandmother.



“This type of oppression is painful for all humanity, but it is especially painful for me personally every time I hear my loving family members cry out for the freedom to live and the right to feel human.