Legislative Round-Up: August 16, 2019

Produced by the Foundation for Middle East Peace in cooperation with Americans for Peace Now, where the Legislative Round-Up was conceived

  1. Bills, Resolutions, & Letters 
  2. Congress Goes to Israel [+ West Bank] with AIPAC [sorry, I mean with AIEF]
  3. The OTHER Congressional Delegation to Israel/Palestine 
  4. On the Record (general)
  1. Bills,  Resolutions, & Letters

 

(QUASHING FREE SPEECH CRITICAL OF ISRAEL) HR 4009: Introduced 7/25 by Collins (R-GA) and having 8 GOP cosponsors, “To provide for the consideration of a definition of anti-Semitism for the enforcement of Federal antidiscrimination laws concerning education programs or activities,” aka, the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2019. Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and the Committee on Education and Labor, Pdf of text is here, GOP press release is here. The Senate version, S. 852, was introduced back on 3/14 - see the 3/13/19 edition of the Round-Up for details. A compilation of resources related to the First Amendment problems with this bill is available here, including vehement opposition to the legislation from Kenneth Stern, who is the person who literally drafted the definition of anti-Semitism that is at the center of this bill.

 

(YES, A BILL TO GIVE MORE DEFENSE AID TO ISRAEL) HR 4156: Introduced 8/2 by Meadows (R-NC), “To provide defense and security assistance to ensure the survival of Israel and its people from an existing or imminent military threat, and for other purposes.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. NOTE: This formulation looks suspiciously like the formulation included in Section 204 of HR 1837 - and based on Meadows’ press release, it sure looks like it is the same thing.

 

As noted in the 7/19/19 edition of the Round-Up, according to Section 204 of HR 1837 :

 

 if the President determines Israel is “under an existing or imminent threat of military attack,” he has the authority to transfer literally any defense-related article or service to Israel without any limitation under law or any oversight from Congress (as in, it entirely waives the Arms Export Control Act). In addition, in terms of funding for these transfers, this provision legislates that, neither the MOU nor any other law limits how much the President can give to Israel. The only condition on this unfettered transfer of military goods/services to Israel is the requirement that the President notify Congress “as soon as practicable” after the fact. Nothing in the provision lays out what is required in order for the President to make a determination of an “existing or imminent threat of military attack”; given the current President’s recent declaration of an “emergency” in order to transfer military goods and services without Congressional oversight – a declaration that has raised serious questions in Congress – this provision is all the more remarkable.

 

As noted in Meadows’ press release:

 

The America Stands with Israel Act empowers the President of the United States to deal with imminent threats to Israel’s survival in two ways. First, it authorizes the President to take whatever military steps may be necessary to protect Israel from an existing or imminent military threat. Second, it allows the President to send immediate and unrestricted defensive measures and services to Israel necessary to assist in its defense.

 

Letters

 

(OPPOSE TWO-STATE SOLUTION, MORE DANGEROUS THAN BDS!) Israeli MKs letter to House On 8/12, a group of 21 Knesset members, including members of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud party (including 2 deputy ministers) sent a letter to members of Congress objecting to H. Res. 246, over that resolution’s inclusion of a reference of support for the two-state solution. The MK’s scold members of Congress, telling them that “the establishment of a Palestinian state would be far more dangerous to Israel than BDS.” [Note: This assertion raises the question: if for years hardliner have been arguing that BDS is an existential threat to Israel/Jews, and that support for BDS (including boycott of settlements) is anti-Israel, and then this escalated to being called antisemitic, and now it has escalated to being called supporting terror -- then what are the going to start calling people who support the two-state solution? - my comments on this on Twitter are here]

 

(WE SUPPORT F-35 PROGRAM) Toomey-Rubio letter to SecDef: On 8/7, Senators Toomey (R-PA) and Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter -- cosigned by Cruz (R-TX), Cotton (R-AR), Blackburn (R-TN), Collins (R-ME), Lee (R-UT), and Capito (R- WV) -- to SecDef Mark Esper expressing “strong support for the F-35 program in the wake of Turkey's removal from the group of F-35 partner nations.” The letter notes that, “By proceeding with the purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense missile system, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has elected to forego” the benefits of the program. It also notes that Turkey’s having the S-400 “Turkey posed an unacceptable threat to the F-35's superiority over our adversaries, and risked compromising the F-35 investments made by this country and our partners.” The letter closes with the signers stating that they “support the continued expansion of the F-35 program at a time when the United States must proactively seek out ways to mitigate the growing threats posed by our adversaries.”

 

(KEEP AUMF AMDT IN FINAL NDAA TEXT) Bipartisan, bicameral letter to HASC/SASC leaders: On 8/1, a bipartisan group of members of the House and Senate sent a joint letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees expressing their “strong support for the inclusion of a bipartisan amendment to prohibit an unauthorized and unconstitutional war with Iran.” The letter is led by Udall (D-NM), Paul (R-KY), Khanna (D-CA) and Gaetz (R-FL), and consigned from the Senate by Kaine (D-VA), Cardin (D-MD), Lee (R-UT), Merkley (D-OR), Colins (R-ME), Murphy (D-CT), Hirono (D-HI), Heinrich (D-NM), Blumenthal (D-CT); and from the House by Biggs (R-AZ), Brown (D-MD), Crow (D-CO), Eshoo (D-CA), Garamendi (D-CA), Gosar (R-AZ),Haaland (D-NM), Levin (D-MI), McGovern (D-MA), Moulton (D-MA), Gallego (D-AZ), Lee (D-CA), Himes (D-CT), Slotkin (D-NY) & Rooney (R-FL).  Press release is here.

 

  1. Congress Goes to Israel [+ West Bank] with AIPAC [sorry, I mean with AIEF]

 

Over recess, many, many House members and many of their spouses (as yet unconfirmed if AIEF paid costs for spouses as well) under the auspices of the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF). 

 

What is AIEF & What is its Relationship with AIPAC?

On its (single page, no links) website, AIEF describes itself as “the charitable organization affiliated with AIPAC, America's pro-Israel lobby.”  The website of The Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation (“MFF”) gives more details, noting that AIEF both makes annual grants to directly to AIPAC for its programs and “funds educational seminars to Israel for members of Congress and other political influentials.” [For further fun reading about Adam Milstein’s activism and funding activities related to Israel, see here.] 

 

Why is travel to Israel with AIEF, rather than AIPAC?
To understand why AIEF, rather than AIPAC, is at least nominally the organization taking members on these trips, see this excellent Roll Call article from 9/9/11 examining what (back in the post-Abramoff era, when Congress was clamping down on lobbying) was widely referred to on the Hill as the “Aipac loophole): Members Flock to Israel With Travel Loophole (a loophole which is exploited today by other groups as well). In a piece from 2014, the Atlantic further explained the AIEF-AIPAC relationship and this loophole:

 

“...the foundation hardly lacks an agenda. It shares staff, money, and an address with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful pro-Israel group that employs a dozen lobbyists and spends more than $2 million annually on lobbying. As a lobbying organization, AIPAC itself isn't allowed to plan and pay for congressional excursions abroad. Yet its shadow foundation has received the blessing of congressional ethics enforcers despite the fact that its 2011 tax filings spell out: "The foundation does not have any employees. The foundation utilizes AIPAC employees." AIPAC even pays the $464,000 salary of Richard Fishman, the foundation's executive director—the man who signs the congressional travel forms.”

 

So are these trips AIPAC trips?

By having AIEF act as the official funder and convener of these trips, legally AIPAC and others can claim that they are not, in fact, AIPAC trips. And while this technically may be accurate, members of Congress and staffers consistently refer to such travel, year after year, as “the AIPAC trip” - with regular conversation about who is going on the “AIPAC trip” and who went on the last “AIPAC trip,” and who people met with or where they stayed on the “AIPAC trip” - a fact noted in the Atlantic’s 2014 article: “‘Everyone understood it to be an AIPAC trip,’ said a freshman representative who joined last August's excursion and was granted anonymity to speak candidly.’” Media likewise often seems to forget to make the distinction between AIPAC and AIEF (e.g., the Jerusalem Post 8/11/19: AIPAC bipartisan delegation to Israel meets Jewish, Arab entrepreneurs; Jewish Insider 6/14/19: AIPAC’s congressional trip to Israel leaves in August. Here’s who’s going).

 

How many House members went to Israel/Palestine with AIEF this year?

According to Hoyer’s (D-MD) press release, the Democratic delegation he is leading included 41 members (many by their own accounts traveling with their spouses). Press reports put the number of GOP House members traveling with McCarthy (R-CA) at 31 (with many, again, by their own accounts traveling with spouses). The Times of Israel reports that together, this 72-member group is the largest congressional delegation to Israel in history. Indeed, a reporter at the Jewish Insider tweeted a photo of a joint press conference of the two groups, held 8/10 in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, with observation: “More than 16% of all of the U.S. Congress is in this room at the King David Hotel right now.” [NOTE: it is actually just over 16% of the House, not 16% of all of Congress, which includes the Senate.]

 

How much does AIEF, the sister organization to AIPAC, spend on these trips?

The amount spent by AIEF on the August recess trips is not yet known (but will eventually be a matter of public record). What is known already is that according to Legistorm, going into the August recess, AIEF had already spent more on Congressional travel in 2019 than any other group, “dropping more than $407,000 on travel to Israel for a bipartisan group of 29 staffers.” Given the far larger number of travelers involved (even taking into account only members of Congress; it is unknown if AIEF is also paying spouses’ travel costs), the costs for the August travel will be far greater than that total.

 

Members of Congress, on the record, from the AIEF trip

Some members of Congress, particularly from the GOP delegation, enthusiastically publicized their Israel travel via social media (and in doing so, some appeared to re-draw Israel’s borders to include areas like Bethlehem - ignorance? Pro-annexation? Who’s to say?). 

 

Members of the Democratic delegation seemed to be much quieter during the trip, perhaps in part because of increasingly evident policy chasms between American progressives and Israeli policy (on settlements, two states, annexation, etc), with media and social media unclear on whether members even raised concerns about such issues at all during their meetings with Israeli officials. Likewise, their quiet may have reflected the fact that Democrats, by their own unwillingness to stand firm in support of the legitimacy of political free speech critical of Israel, , have put themselves in a no-win situation: if they defend Democratic colleagues accused of being anti-Israel and/or anti-Semitic for their opposition to Israeli policies, they risk being accused of the same sins; if they join in bashing their Democratic colleagues for the alleged sins of being anti-Israel and/or anti-Semitic the risk fueling the argument that the Democratic party, by their own admission, is tainted by the inclusion of such terrible people. And yet, they still fall into this trap [e.g. Jewish News Service 8/11: House Democrats in Israel Say ‘Squad’ Doesn’t Speak for Party]

 

Below is a selection of member statements/tweets/etc from the AIEF/AIPAC trip:

 

Watkins (R-KS) 8/15: In Israel I had the pleasure of visiting the U.S. Embassy in its new, permanent home of Jerusalem. The embassy will forever serve as an eternal reminder that we must always stand firm and protect our democratic ally in the Middle East. 

Miller (R-WV) 8/15: Yesterday I had the opportunity to see our new US Embassy in Jerusalem. I am proud that the US and Israel are speaking with one voice to affirm that a unified Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. [with de rigeur pic at embassy]

Steil (R-WI) 8/15: Coming to you live from the Golan Heights on the border of Israel and Syria. [with video]

Riggelman (R-VA) 8/15: “It’s up to Israel and [the Palestinians] to find the solutions to the conflict. The United States must step back and simply support Israel’s right to exist and to secure itself. There is no easy fix” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” [with link to Israel Hayom article entitled, “House Republicans indicate openness to alternatives to 2-state solution”

Riggelman (R-VA) 8/15: On our congressional delegation trip to Israel, we learned about some of the challenges Israel is facing in securing their border. I hope our bipartisan delegation can use what we learned there to help address the crisis on the U.S.- Mexico border.

Estes (R-KS) 8/14: “While in Israel to meet with leaders from the region and show America’s support for our ally, it was great to visit the U.S. embassy recently moved to Jerusalem by President Trump. I was proud to support this move as part of our commitment to one of our most important allies.” [with de rigeur pic at embassy]

Steil (R-WI) 8/14: “Joining Bill and Pete on @am1050wlip’s Wake Up Kenosha at 6:50am live from Israel. Tune in!”

Stauber (R-MN) 8/14: “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and thankfully, the Trump Administration acknowledged this fact by moving our embassy here.” [with de rigeur pic at embassy]

Higgins (R-LA) 8/14: “Many presidents have campaigned on moving the US Embassy and recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but only @realDonaldTrump followed through and kept his promise.” [with de rigeur pic at embassy]

Norman (R-SC) 8/14: “Live from #Israel, I’ll be calling into Palmetto Mornings shortly on @WRHI. 100.7 FM in York County, or listen online at http://WRHI.com . Tune in!”

Rouda (D-CA) 8/14: “Now more than ever, the US-Israel special relationship is critical to the stability of the Middle East and our mutual security. I was glad to join a bipartisan delegation to visit Israel and better understand the successes and challenges in the region.”

McCarthy (R-CA) 8/14: Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and it always will be. So grateful to President @realDonaldTrump for officially acknowledging that fact by moving the US embassy here. [with de rigeur pic at embassy]

Riggelman (R-VA) 8/14: Our #Israel delegation trip visited the Israel- Lebanon border. It has been great to learn about some of the challenges our Israeli allies face and it is good to be with colleagues like @RepMarkGreen and @GReschenthal

Steil (R-WI) 8/13: “I’m joining @WTMJSteve on @620wtmj live from Israel! Tune in at 11am.”

Miller (R-VA) 8/13: “I am honored to be part of this trip, to see firsthand the challenges facing the region and the path forward toward peace. #StandWithIsrael”

Wright (R-TX) 8/13: “Great spending time with @netanyahu. We spoke about the importance of a continued defense partnership between the U.S. and Israel.” [with video of Bibi addressing delegation]

Stauber (R-MN) 8/13: “Shortly after arriving in Israel, we traveled to the Iron Dome Defense System, which protects the people of Israel by intercepting and destroying incoming rocket fire. This is a strong example of the US-Israel defense alliance.”

Waltz (R-FL) 8/12: Press release, “Rep. Waltz Promotes U.S.-Israel Economic, Political Partnership in Jerusalem

Steil (R-WI) 8/12: “I’m pleased to be in Israel on a bipartisan congressional delegation visit to discuss our countries’ shared goals and partnership. The Iron Dome technology protects Israel from rocket attacks. This is an important example of US-Israel defense alliance” [with pix with Iron Dome & Arrow]

McCarthy (R-CA) 8/12: “Thank you to @IsraeliPM @Netanyahu for being such a gracious host in Jerusalem. The United States has no greater friend than Israel, and we will stand by her through thick and thin.” [with pic of McCarthy & Bibi]

McCarthy (R-CA) 8/12: press release - Leader McCarthy Meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem

Waltz (R-FL) 8/12: Twitter thread documenting his visit to Israel 

Stauber (R-MN) 8/12: Tweet - “As a strong supporter of Israel, I am glad to be on this incredible trip and for the chance to learn more about U.S. - Israel security relationship.”

Steil (R-WI) 8/12: “I’m pleased to be in Israel on a bipartisan congressional delegation visit to discuss our countries’ shared goals and partnership. The Iron Dome technology protects Israel from rocket attacks. This is an important example of US-Israel defense alliance”

Norman (R-SC) 8/12: “One of the Iron Dome's batteries, designed to intercept short-range rockets fired upon #Israel from as close as 2½ miles away. Full post: http://bit.ly/2Z1AmNI”

Riggleman (R-VA) 8/11: “Today our bipartisan delegation was given a briefing on the Israeli Iron Dome defense system, which helps protect Israeli citizens from low level rocket attacks.” [pic with wife][ 

Rigglelman (R-VA) 8/11: “Great to see my friend @RepDavidTrone in Israel on our bipartisan Congressional delegation. David and I have worked together in DC on a number of issues and this is our second time in Israel together.”

Norman (R-SC) 8/11: “Our visit to #Israel is now in full swing. And yesterday, we took a guided tour of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. For centuries, this #church has stood at the birthplace of Jesus…” [pic with wife -- and another member of Congress who appears to have redefined Israel’s borders to include Bethlehem]

McCarthy (R-CA) 8/10: Tweet, “Just arrived in Israel with dozens of other members of Congress—Republican and Democrat. We are here to show unity in our support for Israel and her people.”

Riggelman (R-VA) 8/10: “Proud to be joining my colleagues from both sides of the aisle on this trip to show support for our Israeli allies.”

Riggelman (R-VA) 8/10: “Christine and I are excited to be in #Israel this week on a Congressional delegation trip. Today we visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, a site of amazing faith and history.” [Another member of Congress who appears to have redefined Israel’s borders to include Bethlehem]

Estes (R-KS) 8/9: press release, “Rep. Estes To Meet with Top Leaders in Israel”

Norman (R-SC) 8/9: “We're exhausted from travel, but Elaine and I are thrilled to have finally arrived in #Israel. We've been looking forward to this journey for a long time…” [pic with wife]

Hoyer (D-MD) 8/8: JPost - “Asked point blank whether he agreed with the characterization used by Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke of Netanyahu as a ‘racist,’ Hoyer responded, ‘I don’t think he’s a racist. Period. No.’” [part of longer piece with lots of Hoyer quotes]

Wild (D-PA) 8/5: Rep. Wild, House Members to Travel to Israel and the West Bank

Hoyer (D-MD) 8/4: Hoyer, House Democratic Members to Travel to Israel and Palestinian Territories [“House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) will serve as the senior Member of a group of 41 House Democrats visiting Israel and the West Bank from August 5 through August 11...”]

Delgado (D-NY) 8/4: Delgado [& wife] Joins House Members on Travel to Israel and Palestinian Territories

Rose (D-NY) 8/2: Rose to Travel to Israel to Meet with Top Israeli, Palestinian Officials

 

  1. The OTHER Congressional Delegation to Israel/Palestine 

 

The big news on 8/15 was that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had decided  to bar Reps. Tlaib (D-MI) and Omar (D-MN) from visiting Israel or the West Bank (while Israeli leaders and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman insist there is no occupation, the fact is that there is no way to enter the West Bank without Israel granting permission - call it occupation, or de facto annexation, or whatever you will). 

 

The President poured gasoline on this political fire with an early morning tweet that appeared to be goading Netanyahu into taking this decision: “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!” 

 

Trump followed up a few hours later, with a new tweet appearing to celebrate Democrats’ outrage and objections to the ban: “Representatives Omar and Tlaib are the face of the Democrat Party, and they HATE Israel!” He later told reporters the same thing, digging in on how terrible these two members of Congress are, and accusing Democrats of having an antisemitism problem.

 

Members of Congress Respond - the GOP

 

Based on what I found on Twitter & members’ websites (this list does not include statements on Facebook, and others may have gotten by me), responses from the GOP to the ban (and the president’s tweet) were few and far between, and ranged from statements supporting the ban and using the news to take shots at Democrats, to statements opposing the ban and using the news to take shots at Democrats, to Collins (R-ME) who sounded  like a responsible, non-partisan human being. Notably, Scalise (R-LA) debuted talking points that are likely to be the script for the next round in this debate, suggesting that the Tlaib/Omar trip had links to terrorism.

 

Brooks (R-AL) 8/15: Like many nations, Israel bars enemies from entering Israel. How can anyone disagree with that? Israel bans Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib because they hate, want to hurt, maybe even destroy, Israel. I respect & support Israel's sovereignty & right to exist. Mo [note: this is the House member who quoted from Hitler’s Mein Kampf on the House floor]

Collins (R-ME) 8/15: Tweet 1 - Israel should allow U.S. Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar to visit. The Trump Administration made a mistake in urging Israel to prevent them from entering the country. Tweet 2 - Instead, the Administration should have encouraged Israel to welcome the visit as an opportunity for Reps. Tlaib and Omar to learn from the Israeli people. We have to be willing to talk if we want people to change their views.

McCarthy (R-CA) 8/15: A record 70+ members of Congress—Reps and Dems—came to Israel this month with open minds, open eyes, and open ears. It’s unfortunate that a few freshmen members declined to join this opportunity to hear from all sides. They should have come. 

[Note: My tweet in response to this: “In 1990s I was posted at US Consulate in Jlem. Many codels came through, some organized by members, others by cmtees, others by outside groups. To suggest that only legit way to visit is on leadership trip under auspices of AIPAC (oops, I mean AIEF) is a-factual & a-historical.”

McSally (R-AZ) 8/15: Israel has the right to decide who can come into their country just like we do. [with link to McSally on Fox]

Rubio (R-FL) 8/15: I disagree 100% with Reps. Tlaib & Omar on #Israel & am the author of the #AntiBDS bill we passed in the Senate But denying them entry into #Israel is a mistake. Being blocked is what they really hoped for all along in order to bolster their attacks against the Jewish state.

Scalise (R-LA) 8/15: Thread - Reps. Omar and Tlaib have consistently refused to recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, and actively support its demise by supporting the anti-Semitic BDS movement that calls for a worldwide boycott of Israel’s economy. By attempting to travel to Israel with an organization that includes members who support terrorism against Israel, Reps. Omar & Tlaib made it clear the only intention of their visit was to spew hate & advocate for policies that would actively undermine the Jewish state of Israel. Just like we expect people to respect our laws, Israeli law allows the government to block the entry of those who advocate for these destructive BDS policies, and we should respect their laws as well. It’s long past time for Speaker Pelosi to stand up to the most radical elements of her conference, and condemn the anti-Semitic vitriol espoused by Reps. Omar and Tlaib, and others in their party, that threaten to undermine our strongest ally in the Middle East.

Scott (R-FL) 8/15: I agree with @realDonaldTrump and @netanyahu. Israel is a sovereign nation and they have no obligation to let in anti-Semitic Congressional members into their country. We can never and should never tolerate anti-Semitism.

Walker (R-NC) 8/15: 56 congressional Democrats as well as VP @JoeBiden boycotted Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address to Congress. This anti-Israel ideology didn’t start with The Squad – they have just taken it to another level.

Watkins (R-KS) 8/15: I’m glad I could join @GOPLeader on this historic trip to Israel. Thank you for your and @realDonaldTrump’s leadership on bringing the capital of Israel back to the Holy Land. #ksleg [linked to video of McCarthy bashing Tlaib & Omar for not going on AIPAC trip]

Zeldin (R-NY) 8/15: Reps Tlaib/Omar are leading the effort in the US to weaken/deligitimize Israel through BDS & more. Rep Tlaib endorsed a 1 state solution removing Jews from power. It shouldn't be shocking they are unwelcome in a nation they are taking great pains to tear down. My full statement [with gif of full statement]:

 

Members of Congress Respond - Dems & Independents

 

On the other side of the aisle (Democrats + Independents) many, many members have tweeted and/or issues statements - a compendium of these is included below (based on what I found on Twitter & members’ websites; this list does not include statements on Facebook, and others may have gotten by me). A review of these statements finds a few clear categories of comments. 

 

  • Category 1 is unequivocal rejection of the ban, based on democratic values and the like. 
  • Category 2 is rejection of the ban, based on democratic values and the like, combined with language making clear that the member totally disagrees with Tlaib and Omar, and/or thinks their views are terrible, and/or thinks Israel is amazing. 
  • Category 3 is rejection of the ban primarily because it makes Israel looks bad, combined with language making clear that the member totally disagrees with Tlaib and Omar, and/or thinks their views are terrible, and/or thinks Israel is amazing. 
  • All of the categories above break down into two sub-categories: sub-category 1 is statements holding Bibi and Trump responsible, and sub-category 2 is statements that hold only Trump responsible (framing Israel as a victim of pressure from Trump)

 

Also, the Members of Congress as the center of this debacle also weighed in:

 

Tlaib (D-MI) 8/15: This woman right here is my sity. She deserves to live in peace & with human dignity. I am who I am because of her. The decision by Israel to bar her granddaughter, a U.S. Congresswoman, is a sign of weakness b/c the truth of what is happening to Palestinians is frightening.

Omar (D-NM) 8/15: press release - “It is an affront that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, under pressure from President Trump, would deny entry to representatives of the U.S. government. Trump’s Muslim ban is what Israel is implementing, this time against two duly elected Members of Congress.  Denying entry into Israel not only limits our ability to learn from Israelis, but also to enter the Palestinian territories. Sadly, this is not a surprise given the public positions of Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has consistently resisted peace efforts, restricted the freedom of movement of Palestinians, limited public knowledge of the brutal realities of the occupation and aligned himself with Islamophobes like Donald Trump. As a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, it is my job to conduct oversight of foreign aid from the United States of America and to legislate on human rights practices around the world. The irony of the ‘only democracy’ in the Middle East making such a decision is that it is both an insult to democratic values and a chilling response to a visit by government officials from an allied nation.” [tweet]

Plaskett (D-USVI) 8/15: “I was invited by the Humpty Dumpty Institute, a longstanding international NGO focused on development work which has a Congressional Advisory Board with over 20 Members of Congress, to visit to Israel and Palestine this summer.  The trip’s focus was to meet with people on the ground and international community organizations doing good work under difficult circumstances. It's my understanding that this organization led a group of other members on this exact trip some time ago.  Aside from a briefing with our own US State Department and Ambassador it was my understanding that we would not meet with any foreign governments. Additionally, my visit was not to highlight any person or groups agenda. I have had staff visit Israel at the request of the Israeli government and had hoped to use the trip to learn more related to this important but troubled region….While I recognize that I would still be able to go on the trip and that the people on the ground still need to be heard from unfortunately I believe the trip will not be productive at this time. I am hopeful that I will be able at another date to visit this region.  During that visit I hope to learn more about the region and maybe share some of the sensibilities of Virgin Islanders – a people interested in making a better place for themselves and their children together.”

 

Other statements (Democrats & Independents, House and Senate, in alphabetical order)

 

Adams (D-NC) 8/15: “I am deeply disappointed in this decision of and very concerned that the choice to deny to two members of the House was encouraged by President Trump. His comments about Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar are beneath the dignity of his office and prove once again that he is unfit to serve. Any sitting member of Congress should be welcome to visit Israel as a representative of the United States. The ability to express opposing views is a hallmark of democracy that both of our nations must uphold. I strongly urge Prime Minister Netanyahu to reconsider his decision.”

Amash (I-MI) 8/15: Israel should stand up to President Trump and allow our colleagues to visit. Nobody has to agree with their opinions, but it will inevitably harm U.S.-Israel relations if members of Congress are banned from the country. We must find ways to come together; there’s enough division.

Bonamici (D-OR) 8/15: Our close relationship with Israel depends on the free exchange of ideas. I gained a stronger appreciation for the challenges of the region when I visited Israel. The country’s leadership should welcome my colleagues, @RepRashida and @Ilhan, not turn them away.

Booker (D-NJ) 8/15: Trump’s constant attacks on Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib are no secret to Israeli leadership. Reversing this decision would demonstrate they understand the dangerous nature of Trump’s racist rhetoric both here at home and around the world.

Boyle (D-PA) 8/15: Today’s action by PM Netanyahu is insulting. He put his own short-term, personal political interests ahead of what’s best for the US-Israel relationship. His action clearly will weaken support for Israel in the US. I urge him to reconsider.

Boyle (D-PA) 8/15: press release - “"Prime Minister Netanyahu’s move to block members of the United States Congress from entering Israel is truly shocking", said Congressman Boyle. "It is an unprecedented slap in the face to Congress and the American people. It is even more outrageous that an American president would actively lobby a foreign government against American citizens, let alone citizens who happen to be the people’s elected representatives. Today’s decision will, sadly, do damage to the important US-Israel relationship. Put simply, President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu have both put their own short-term political interests ahead of the US-Israel relationship.”

Carson (D-IN) 8/15: My statement on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to block @Ilhan and @RepRashida from entering Israel: “...Whatever disagreements may exist between my colleagues and the Israeli government, those disagreements do not warrant an action of this nature…” 

Cardin (D-MD) 8/15: press release - “I disagree adamantly with Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) in regards to our policy toward the State of Israel and the BDS movement that seeks to marginalize, if not erase off the map, a strong ally of the United States. However, I also disagree adamantly with the highly political move to bar two Members of the United States Congress from visiting Israel, the only other functioning democracy in the Middle East. It was wrong for the Prime Minister of Israel to block the American lawmakers. It is in Israel’s interest for these critics to see this vibrant democracy and talk to Israelis firsthand. It was even more egregious that the President of the United States interfered in this process for his own political purposes. President Trump continues his attempts to use every opportunity to turn the historically bipartisan support for Israel into a political wedge. For the sake of our strong, longstanding bilateral relationship, Prime Minister Netanyahu should not play into such blatant manipulation.” [tweet]

Carson (D-IN) 8/15: I spoke with @BrookeBCNN about Prime Minister Netanyahu's action, urged by President Trump, to prevent my congressional colleagues from entering Israel. This decision makes me question the nation's commitment to freedom of expression.

Casey (D-PA) 8/15: press release - “The United States and Israel have always enjoyed an unbreakable bond based on mutual respect, shared security interests and commitment to democracy and human rights. As a United States Senator, I have worked tirelessly to support Israel by backing the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and accompanying security assistance; blocking financing of terrorist organizations threatening Israel’s security; opposing the Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement which only serves to undermine Israel’s legitimacy and by traveling to Israel multiple times to see firsthand the threats Israel faces on a daily basis. I do not agree with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to bar entry to two United States Members of Congress – Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. While I acknowledge Israel’s sovereign right to admit or deny entry to any individual, blocking entry to these two United States Representatives undermines an opportunity for increased understanding and a strengthened partnership. I do not agree with many of Representatives Omar and Tlaib’s statements over the past several months that target the U.S.-Israel relationship. However, they are elected United States Representatives and should be afforded the same respect that all U.S. members of Congress receive when visiting Israel. The U.S.-Israel relationship has enjoyed longstanding bipartisan support. However, President Trump’s active support for blocking these two Members of Congress smacks of partisanship from this Administration. Allowing such an important bilateral relationship to become compromised by partisan politics only serves to undermine U.S. national security. Finally, the Israeli government’s decision – taken with President Trump’s support – sends a clear message that political disagreement should be met with what amounts to censorship. These are not the actions of pluralistic democracies that encourage debate and diversity of perspectives. I call on Israel to reconsider its decision and afford these two United States Representatives an opportunity travel to Israel.” [tweet]

Casten (D-IL) 8/15: Thread - Last week, I had the privilege to travel to Israel with several dozen of my colleagues. We met with political leaders, soldiers and entrepreneurs. We met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Abbas, and Benny Ganz, leader of the Blue & White party. We met Israeli citizens and Palestinian youth. We engaged with people who are passionate & do not always agree but are free to share their disagreements in the public square. In short, we saw a healthy democracy. A democracy that - like our own - is not perfect, but takes pride in its successes & faces its flaws w/ humility. The country I experienced is at odds with the news reports that the Knesset may not allow my colleagues Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar to travel to Israel. Representatives Tlaib and Omar are Members of Congress who have both been vocal advocates for the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza. I don't always agree with them, but I always learn from them. Democracy depends on a healthy exchange of ideas, and it would not be in Israel’s or the United States' best interest for our elected officials to be denied the opportunity for direct dialogue. I oppose Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to block this visit and urge him to reconsider.

Cicililline (D-RI) 8/15: Tweet - “The strong US-Israel relationship is based on our shared values and this flies in the face of democratic norms. It’s hard to see this as anything but a provocation by Netanyahu weeks before a tough election.” 

Cicilline (D-RI) 8/15: Tweet - “The strong US-Israel relationship is based on our shared values and this flies in the face of democratic norms. It’s hard to see this as anything but a provocation by Netanyahu weeks before a tough election.”

Clay (D-MO) 8/15: Nixing Tlaib and Omar visit, Netanyahu harms Israel to assuage Trump’s ego - Israel News - http://Haaretz.com . Absolutely correct, the US-Israel alliance is a two-way street, enormous mistake, hurts Israel, hurts the USA. #DemocraciesDontHide

Cleaver (D-MS) 8/15: This decision by Netanyahu, and urged on by President Trump, sets a dangerous precedent and should be universally condemned by members of Congress.

Cohen (D-TN) 8/15: Thread - The President shouldn’t encourage foreign governments to bar Members of Congress from visiting. Trump is letting his politically motivated grudge against @Ilhan & @RepRashida undermine Congress, the people’s representatives. This is a mistake. These international trips help to inform the policies and decisions made by Members of Congress. By barring the entry of these two Congresswomen, Israel is preventing dialogue. This is counterproductive. I hope they reverse this decision.

Craig (D-MN) 8/15: The decision to ban members of Congress from visiting Israel goes against our shared values of freedom and democracy and sets a dangerous precedent going forward. Every member of Congress should have the opportunity to visit Israel – this decision must be reversed.

Davids (D-KS) 8/15: “A strong international relationship requires engagement and communication between governments, and the decision to ban Representatives Tlaib and Omar, two sitting members of Congress, from entering Israel is counterproductive to maintaining a strong US-Israel relationship. This action is not in line with the values we hold as democracies, and it’s wrong. Strong alliances can thrive even where disagreements exist, but they cannot thrive where free and open communication is shut down. This is an ill-advised and dangerous precedent to set  – especially in light of the long-standing bond between our two countries – and it must be reversed.” [tweet]

Davis (D-IL) 8/15: The reported decision by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is unprecedented, dangerous, unacceptable and wrong. This decision is inconsistent and antithetical with the notions of democracy which the Prime Minister has repeatedly emphasized are a foundational feature of the...

Dean (D-PA) 8/15: Last week, Israelis & Palestinians welcomed my colleagues & me. PM Netanyahu's decision – urged by the President – to bar entry to Rep. @Ilhan & @RepRashida is indecent & beneath Israel’s dignity. It is in contrast with their democratic values. Welcome them as you welcomed me

Deutch (D-FL) 8/15: I am disappointed with Israel's decision. But why is the President telling other countries not to admit American Members of Congress? Israel is a strong enough democracy to handle this visit. The President's weakness is that he doesn't understand that.

Deutch (D-FL) 8/15: press release - “I am extremely disappointed that the Israeli government has chosen not to allow my colleagues to enter Israel. It is well known that I have strong disagreements with my colleagues’ views on Israel. I support a two-state solution and condemn BDS...If Members of Congress visit Israel and shut out the voices of those they disagree with, they are making a mistake. And when Israel shuts out Members of Congress, they, too, are making a mistake. I regret today׳s decision." 

Durbin (D-IL) 8/15: I’m disappointed in Israel’s decision to deny entry to two sitting members of the United States Congress – as well as Pres. Trump’s heinous & unprecedented lobbying efforts on the matter. Nothing is gained by stifling voices or opinions you disagree with.

Engel (D-NY) 8/15: Press release - Engel Statement on Israel Denying Entry to Reps. Omar & Tlaib [tweet]

Fletcher (D-TX) 8/15: Thread - Visiting Israel provides an unparalleled opportunity to witness the challenges facing everyday Israelis and Palestinians, the complexities of the conflict, and the opportunities for progress. I benefited enormously from doing so just last week with a large bipartisan delegation. PM Netanyahu’s decision to deny entry to Israel for members of Congress—Reps. Tlaib & Omar—not only violates its Ambassador’s promise not to deny entry to any member of Congress; it undermines the opportunity for them to gain an understanding of the complex issues in the region. I have often disagreed with my colleagues’ statements about Israel, but I believe that education, engagement, and exchange of ideas is the best way to change views and resolve conflict. And working to resolve this conflict benefits us all. I join with Leader Hoyer and many of my colleagues, as well as advocates for Israel across the U.S., in calling for Prime Minister Netanyahu to reconsider and reverse this decision.

Eshoo (D-CA) 8/15: Thread - Israel’s decision to deny two sitting Members of Congress from entering the country is deeply disappointing and counterproductive to the special bond between the United States and Israel. Fact-finding trips to foreign countries are highly instructive for Members, and Israel should use this opportunity to engage in productive dialogue. President Trump’s comments encouraging Israel to deny Members of Congress entry into Israel are borne out of ignorance, and it’s sad that Prime Minister Netanyahu took the bait.

Espaillat (D-NY) 8/15: I strongly urge the Israeli government to reverse this decision and allow Congresswomen ⁦@RepRashida⁩ and ⁦@Ilhan⁩ to continue with their travel.

Frankel (D-FL) 8/15: Thread - One of the strengths of democracies is the free exchange of ideas. Israel’s decision to block the entry of U.S. Representatives @Ilhan & @RepRashida from visiting its country on an upcoming official trip is counter to the values of both countries. And sadly, once again Mr. Trump is using Israel as a political football.

Fudge (D-OH) 8/15: The Israeli government’s unprecedented move to bar Members of the U.S. Congress from its country is shocking & shameful. Democratic governments tolerate, not censure, differing ideologies & political views. I urge Israel to reverse its decision!

Gallego (D-AZ) 8/15: The decision to bar Reps Tlaib and Omar from Israel & the West Bank is deeply harmful. I urge my Israeli friends to reverse this decision at once.

Garcia (D-IL) 8/15: It’s appalling for @realdonaldtrump to attack @RepRashida & Rep. @Ilahn with more bigoted falsehoods and encourage another country to deny their visit. Prime Minster [sic] Netanyahu should welcome my colleagues. In doing so, he would reaffirm Israel’s commitment to democratic debate.

Gillibrand (D-NY) 8/15: It’s appalling that President Trump continues to attack two sitting Congresswomen and encouraged another country to deny U.S. officials entry. Trump's behavior is unacceptable, dangerous, and un-American. Israel's decision should be reversed immediately.

Gomez (D-CA) 8/15: Our relationship with Israel is based on trust, respect, and support for democratic principles. Dissent and disagreement are part of that. Banning ANY member of Congress shows weakness, not strength. I condemn the decision to ban @RepRashida and @IlhanMN.

Gottheimer (D-NJ) 8/15: press release - “I have been vocal about my strong disagreement with some of my colleagues about the U.S.-Israel relationship, and of their use of anti-Semitic tropes. However, refusing entry to members of the U.S. Congress, regardless of their views and misguided, planned itinerary, is a serious, strategic mistake -- just as it was wrong for Palestinian Authority President Abbas to refuse to meet with House Republicans visiting the region. I have also spoken with Ambassador Dermer about this decision, which, in my view, only distracts from defending Israel from real threats and clear instances of bias and double standards.” [tweet]

Green (D-TX) 8/15: Mr. President, by encouraging the barring of Congress Members @RepRashida & @Ilhan from Israel or any other country, you're placing your personal politics above U.S. national interests. It is anti-American, undemocratic, and further evidence of why YOU ARE UNFIT TO BE PRESIDENT.

Grijalva (D-AZ) 8/15: Thread - Trump asked a foreign government to ban entry for two Members of Congress. This is a pathetic attempt to silence and discredit the legitimate concerns my colleagues have over the policies of the Israeli government so that Trump can pander to his political base. Yet again, this is a sad display of Trump's ignorance on foreign policy and diplomacy. The Israeli government should reverse this decision immediately.

Haaland (D-NM) 8/15: It’s absolutely ridiculous that the President thinks it’s ok to interfere with Congress’ work. It's not.

Harris (D-CA) 8/15: I don't believe any nation should deny entry to elected Members of Congress, period. It’s an affront to the United States. Open and engaged foreign relations are critical to advancing U.S. interests. Trump is playing politics as he weakens our global leadership.

Houlahan (D-PA) 8/15: Thread -I respect the right of Israel, a sovereign state, to make its own decisions. However, I’m extremely disappointed by the decision to prevent duly elected Members of the United States Congress from traveling to the country and experiencing it firsthand. All elected officials from both of our countries should be able to visit one another. Israel is a close ally, and from one democracy to another, I urge the country’s leadership to reverse this decision. 

Hastings (D-FL) 8/15: press release - “It seems that it is not enough for President Donald Trump to fan the flames of racism, xenophobia, and islamophobia here at home. Now, he seeks to sow division in Israel...I believe the Prime Minister’s decision reflects weakness and short-term political expediency, but am confident that the Israeli public and diaspora communities will not be fooled so easily. As a longtime member and the current Chairman of the Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), and a former member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I have travelled to Israel 18 times. I have also travelled to China, Russia, Armenia, and several African nations with which I have been a vocal critic. Not once have I ever been denied the opportunity to visit these places and meet with government officials and members of the opposition. I have expressed my disagreements with my two colleague’s [sic] anti-Israel sentiments, but it is nevertheless wrong to deny them entry into Israel. I hope that in the coming days Prime Minister Netanyahu will reconsider his decision and allow my colleagues the opportunity to learn about Israel’s challenges firsthand. I remain deeply troubled by President Trump’s continued politicization of the U.S.-Israel relationship. His vindictiveness and pettiness are on full display, and this is deeply regrettable." [tweet]

Hayes (D-CT) 8/15: Thread - #Israel decision to block @Ilhan and @RepRashida visit is dangerous & wrong- they are members of Congress. During my visit I realized the best way to learn is to visit and hear from all sides. It is unconscionable that our President would encourage this. As an ally to the U.S. I urge the Israeli government to change their decision.

Hill (D-CA) 8/15: I urge Prime Minister Netanyahu to reconsider banning my colleagues, @RepRashida and @Ilhan, from visiting Israel. Furthermore, I implore President Trump to apologize for the hateful rhetoric that instigated this diplomatic failure. [plus gif of longer statement]

Horsford (D-NV) 8/15: I urge Prime Minister Netanyahu to reconsider his ban of our first Muslim Congresswomen, @reprashida & @ilhan, from entering Israel. This decision sets a dangerous precedent—I hope that all Members of Congress who visit Israel in the future will be received openly & with respect.

Hoyer (D-MD) 8/15: press release, “The decision of the Israeli government to deny entry to Israel by two Members of Congress is outrageous, regardless of their itinerary or their views.  This action is contrary to the statement and assurances to me by Israel’s ambassador to the United States that ‘out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any Member of Congress into Israel.’  That representation was not true...” [tweet]

Huffman (D-CA) 8/15: [in response to Trump] No, YOU are a disgrace. This is a craven, partisan, racist weaponization of the US-Israel relationship that will do lasting damage - so you can play electoral map games with MN and MI. Shame! 

Jackson Lee (D-TX) 8/15: Thread - Members of Congress conduct vital oversight through visits to places around the world to inform our policy and ensure that Americans' tax dollars are spent appropriately and consistent with American values. Israel's denial of entry to two duly-elected members of Congress based on political disagreements they have with our President and following the President's urging that Israel deny entry to these members, is unprecedented and outrageous. I urge the Government of Israel to reconsider.

Jayapal (D-WA) 8/15; Blocking @ilhan and @RepRashida from entering Israel would be incredibly disrespectful and send a dangerous message. I urge Netanyahu to reconsider this course of action.

Jeffries (D-NY) 8/15: Presidents come and go. Congress will endure. The Likud government’s decision to capitulate to a malignant narcissist (so-called President) and exclude two members of the House from visiting Israel is a sign of weakness, not strength. It should be REVERSED IMMEDIATELY.

Johnson (D-GA) 8/15: Israel’s exclusion of @reprashida & @Ilhan shows great weakness and lack of respect for democratic ideals. Banning duly elected members of Congress from entering Israel in route to Palestine all while they seek continued military assistance from the U.S. is unconscionable.

Johnson (D-TX) 8/15: Strong democracies welcome those who criticize their policies. It is shameful that Mr. Netanyahu has chosen to ban two of my colleagues from visiting Israel and Palestine. The US has poured billions of taxpayer dollars into Israel. This action is an insult to the American people.

Kaine (D-VA) 8/15: PM Netanyahu – Drop your Muslim ban. Congress votes over and over again to provide unprecedented security assistance to Israel. Banning any member disrespects us all.

Kennedy (D-MA) 8/15: This dangerous decision must be reversed. Freedom of speech is a bedrock principle that unites the US and Israel. As much as I may disagree with some of my colleagues' views on Israel, the answer is to engage -- not to punish, silence or exclude.

Khanna (D-CA) 8/15: Thread - Netanyahu’s decision is an insult to the American people. @RepRashida & @ilhan are members of Congress, the voice of the greatest and most powerful nation. No MOC should be denied access considering all we have done for the world and the billions of aid we give to Israel. Censoring disagreement to the point of barring visits by members of the United States Congress prevents lawmakers from conducting their oversight duties. These are US tax dollars at work - Congress has a right to see where they are going. I urge the Israeli government to reconsider this decision in the name of democracy.

Khanna (D-CA) 8/15: It’s disgraceful that Netanyahu is denying @IlhanMN & @RashidaTlaib access to Israel due to their political views. This isn’t a partisan issue. When a nation blocks a member of Congress from entering their borders, they are insulting the American people.

Khanna (D-CA) 8/15: .@AmbDermer I imagine you agree that the US is the greatest and most powerful nation. Data: the US is 24% of world GDP; Israel is .44%. We give Israel and other nations billions in aid. Do you see why it’s insulting to the American people for you to deny entry to Congresswomen?

Kildee (D-MI) 8/15: I strongly condemn #Israel's decision to bar @RepRashida & @Ilhan from entering the country.

Klobuchar (D-MN) 8/15: This is not what great democracies do. Vociferous disagreement on issues—yes. Denying congressional members entry—no. As for the President’s message that allowing the congresswomen to visit Israel would be a “sign of weakness?” Exporting intolerance is the true sign of weakness.

Larson (D-CT) 8/15: We should be encouraging open and direct dialogue, not preventing it. @RepRashida and @Ilhan are duly elected Members of Congress, who shouldn't be shut out of any conversation. This is a big mistake. I urge @IsraeliPM to allow Reps. Tlaib & Omar visit.

Levin (D-MI) 8/15: press release - “This is a completely misguided decision that reeks of political motivation. Congresswoman Tlaib, whose family lives in the West Bank, and Congresswoman Omar, who is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, deserve to be treated with the dignity and respect that any other Member of Congress would receive. This decision pulls at the seams of our two countries’ important relationship and endangers Israel by attempting to politicize American support for the country. The Israeli government should reject the bigoted, wedge-driving political tactics of President Trump, who recently said that both congresswomen should “go back” to their countries, and grant Reps. Tlaib and Omar entry into the country to do their jobs.” [Twitter thread]

Levin (D-MI) 8/15: Donald Trump’s statement was unpatriotic - how dare he encourage another country to deny entry to Members of Congress trying to do their jobs.

Levin (D-CA) 8/15: Thread - Israel’s decision to block two Members of Congress from entering the country is flat out wrong. We maintain a strong relationship with Israel by exchanging ideas and recognizing there is more that unites us than divides us. I urge the government of Israel to reconsider this short-sighted decision and respect all US lawmakers.

Lipinski (D-IL) 8/15: I’m disappointed by Israel’s decision to block the visit of Reps. Omar & Tlaib. Unlike #POTUS, I do not believe it would “show great weakness” to allow these two representatives to visit. The U.S. & Israel are strong allies & we must strive to maintain this critical relationship [link to longer statement]

Lofgren (D-CA) 8/15: I am stunned and outraged that Israel, our supposed ally, is barring entry to duly elected Members of the House of Representatives.

Loebsack (D-IA) 8/15: Thread - Israel has always been a strong democratic ally of America. Its decision to deny entry to 2 American congresswomen is a sign of weakness and is clearly harmful to the US-Israel relationship. Instead of barring persons with opposing views of how the Palestinians and Israelis should resolve their ongoing conflict, Prime Minister Netanyahu should welcome such discussion of the best way forward to peace in the region. 

Lowenthal (D-CA) 8/15: Thread - I am deeply disturbed and offended by the Israeli government’s decision to bar @RepRashida & @Ilhan’s Congressional Delegation from visiting the country. The search for peace and security in the Middle East can only succeed if all points of view are heard. As a democratic nation, Israel must be able to engage with those who criticize its policies—especially when those critics are duly elected members of Congress. This is an unacceptable way for Israel to treat a closely allied country. It is clear that President Trump played a major role in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision. Once again, our President is stoking fear, hatred and division for political purposes. This is dangerous and disgusting.

Lowey (D-NY) 8/15: I strongly disagree with Israel’s decision to ban @RepRashida and @Ilhan from the country. It’s a missed opportunity to engage on areas of disagreement.

Lowey (D-NY) 8/15: press release - ““I am saddened by the Israeli government’s decision to bar two sitting Members of Congress from entering Israel, especially following Ambassador Dermer’s public announcement that both women would be allowed to enter just a short time ago. Members of Congress frequently disagree on policy solutions, just as members of Israel’s Knesset do. Democracies are marked by the ability to express opposing views. By blocking entry by these representatives, the Israeli government is missing an opportunity for engagement in dialogue with those they disagree with, instead empowering those who seek to create a wedge between our two countries. This decision does nothing to further the U.S.-Israel relationship, and I urge the Prime Minister to reconsider.”

Lujan (D-NM) 8/15: The Israeli Government decision to block the entry of Congresswomen @Ilhan and @RepRashida into Israel is disappointing, counterproductive, and deeply hurtful.

Lujan (D-NM) 8/15: press release - “The decision to block the entry of Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib into Israel is disappointing, counterproductive, and deeply hurtful. Both congresswomen are duly elected representatives of the United States Congress.

“The statements by President Trump urging the ban were inappropriate and wrong. America and Israel share the values of Democracy and freedom, and today, President Trump fell far short of meeting those values.”

Luria (D-CA) 8/15: Thread - Visiting Israel as an incoming Member of Congress provided me an important opportunity to see first-hand the necessity and value of a strong bilateral U.S.-Israel relationship. As anti-Semitic and anti-Israel sentiments are becoming more prevalent in the United States, engaging with Israel must not become a partisan issue. I believe the decision to refuse entry to Members of Congress is a missed opportunity for them to see first-hand the existential threats at Israel’s borders and to understand the significance to our own national security of maintaining a strong US-Israel relationship. [statement]

McGovern (D-MA) 8/15: thread - Prime Minister @Netanyahu's decision to bar @RepRashida & @Ilhan from entry to Israel is unacceptable and wrong. It insults not just my colleagues, but the entire Congress of the United States. As Americans, we know that free and open debate — even loud and angry debate — strengthens our democratic values. Israel's denial of entry to Reps. Tlaib and Omar is not the act of a strong & vibrant democracy, but a sign of weakness. I strongly urge them to reconsider. And as usual, President Trump displays cowardice and ignorance. He cares more about exploiting political division and insulting his fellow Americans than living up to the responsibilities of his office. Shame on him.

McCollum (D-MN) 8/15: Trump & Netanyahu are afraid to have @reprashida & @ilhan witness first-hand the brutality & dehumanization Israel’s occupation inflicts on the Palestinian people. This bigoted president is working to extend his Muslim travel ban to Members of Congress.

Matsui (D-CA) 8/15: Every Member of Congress should have the opportunity to visit Israel.

Meeks (D-NY) 8/15: Israel is doing itself no favors acquiescing to the personal motivations of President Trump. Israel’s relationship with Congress must remain above politics.

Menendez (D-NJ) 8/15: Regardless of domestic politics/party, there must always be common cause to protect our #NatSecurity interests—including a strong alliance w/ Israel. Acquiescing to Trump's pressure to shun US congresswomen from visiting Israel is a mistake, even if their views are uninformed.

Merkley (D-OR) 8/15: It's insidious for the president to interfere with an independent legislative branch, and in conflict with our Constitution. I find it deeply disturbing and disappointing that Israel would follow his lead.

Morelle (D-NY) 8/15: Freedom of expression is what makes democracies like America and Israel great - the actions of the Israeli government to deny my colleagues entry runs contrary to this fundamental ideal. I urge them to reverse this misguided decision.

Murphy (D-CT) 8/15: “I don’t like the way these members often talk about Israel, but a decision to ban congressional critics from Israel would be a big mistake. This will do long term harm to the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

Murcarsal-Powell (D-FL) 8/15: Israel’s decision to block members of Congress from visiting goes against what it means to be a democratic nation. Every member of Congress should have the opportunity to visit Israel. PM Netanyahu should strongly reconsider his decision to deny our colleagues entry into Israel.

Nadler (D-NY) 8/15: I strongly condemn this decision by the Israeli government, which undermines the ability for our two allied countries to have the frank, open and, at times, difficult discussions that we must have in order to ensure Israel remains a secure and democratic nation.

Nadler (D-NY) 8/15: press release - “It is utterly egregious for the Israeli government to deny entry to two sitting members of the United States Congress. The close relationship enjoyed by the United States and Israel should extend to all its government representatives, regardless of their views on specific issues or policies. This decision undermines the ability for our two allied countries to have the frank, open and, at times, difficult discussions that we must have in order to ensure Israel remains a secure and democratic nation. I strongly condemn this decision and urge the Israeli government to allow entry to these Congresswomen and welcome them in the respectful, dignified manner to which they are entitled as official representatives of the United States.”

Neguse (D-CO) 8/15: The government of Israel’s decision to bar elected members of the U.S. House from entering the country is outrageous and wrong. Period. I join my colleagues in urging the government of Israel to reconsider its decision.

Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) 8/15: Netanyahu’s discriminatory decision to ban members of Congress from Israel harms int’l diplomacy. Visiting Israel & Palestine are key experiences towards a path to peace. Sadly, I cannot move forward w scheduling any visits to Israel until all members of Congress are allowed.

Panetta (D-CA) 8/15: The decision to deny Members of Congress entry to Israel is shortsighted and wrong. The enduring U.S.-Israeli alliance is enhanced when Members gain a stronger understanding of the challenges and threats facing Israel. I hope the Prime Minister will reconsider.

Pascrell (D-NJ) 8/15: This decision should be rescinded now. Democracy is built on the free exchange of ideas. This is antithetical to the egalitarian ideas that have nurtured Israel into the vibrant nation it is today. Our ally is treading a perilous path by heeding Trump’s provocations.

Pelosi (D-CA) 8/15: press release - “As one who loves Israel, I am deeply saddened by the news that Israel has decided to prevent Members of Congress from entering the country. Last month, Israeli Ambassador Dermer stated that, ‘Out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any Member of Congress into Israel.’  This is a sad reversal and is deeply disappointing. I pray that the Government of Israel will reverse that denial. Israel’s denial of entry to Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar is a sign of weakness, and beneath the dignity of the great State of Israel. The President’s statements about the Congresswomen are a sign of ignorance and disrespect, and beneath the dignity of the Office of the President.” [tweet]

Perlmutter (D-CO) 8/15: The Israeli government’s decision to ban entry of elected members of Congress, Reps. Omar and Tlaib, is ridiculous and disrespectful.

Phillips (D-MN) 8/15: press release - “I am appalled by Israel's decision to bar entry to sitting members of the United States Congress. This action sets a damaging precedent for a free and democratic nation and our most important ally in the region. It will harm Israel’s standing among Americans and the entire free world, and sacrifices an opportunity to build bridges of understanding. I urge Israel’s leaders to reverse this dangerous decision immediately.” [tweet]

Pocan (D-WI) 8/15: Prime Minister Netanyahu is wrong to deny @RepRashida & @Ilhan entry into Israel. The U.S. is Israel's strongest ally & has provided billions in support. PM Netanyahu must reverse this decision & no member of Congress should visit Israel until all members of Congress are welcome.

Porter (D-CA) 8/15: “I condemn the Prime Minister’s decision to bar to [sic] Congresswoman Tlaib and Omar from entering Israel. Our democracies encourage dialogue and tolerate dissent, and this decision to punish free speech by preventing Members of Congress from doing their jobs hurts our alliance and the strong bonds between our countries. I urge the Israeli government to reverse this decision”

Pressley (D-MA) 8/15: press release, “When you attack one of us, you attack all of us. Netanyahu is stoking division and punishing dissent just like the occupant of the White House. Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib are my dear friends, my sisters in service and hardworking Americans who have been subject to some of the most vile and vicious attacks simply for being who they are. They are duly elected members of Congress and we cannot allow them to be marginalized, discriminated against, nor targeted because of their gender, their religious beliefs, nor their ethnicity.  That is not who we are as a country and we should reevaluate our relationships with any country who seeks to ban Americans and threatens the safety of anyone, including government officials.” [tweet]

Rice (D-NY) 8/15: Thread - As a strong supporter of Israel, I believe we should never shy away from engaging in an honest and constructive conversation about the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship, especially with those who have opposing views. This trip was an opportunity to do just that. Tweet 2 - Support for Israel must remain a bipartisan priority and the Prime Minister's decision to deny entry to two Members of Congress does nothing to advance that mission or strengthen America’s vital relationship with Israel. I urge him to reconsider. 

Rochester (D-DE) 8/15: Thread - Having visited Israel myself, it is my belief that every Member of Congress should be afforded that same opportunity as we seek to find peace in the Middle East. Israel’s decision to deny entry to @RepRashida & @Ilhan only undermines the U.S.- Israel relationship. The decision is wrong and should be reversed immediately.

Rose (D-NY) 8/15: This short-sighted decision to prevent Members of Congress from visiting a strong ally nation sets a dangerous precedent and should be reversed. I believe every Member of Congress would benefit from visiting Israel. I strongly disagree with today's decision

Rosen (D-NV) 8/15: Everyone benefits when Members of Congress go to Israel to learn more about our strong and special relationship. Israel is our closest ally in the Middle East, and today’s actions will only inject partisanship into our alliance.

Rouda (D-CA) 8/15: President Trump’s call for Israel to deny entry to my colleagues is the work of dictators and authoritarians, not an American president. [with link to press release]

Rouda (D-CA) 8/15: press release, “I have plenty of my own differences of ideas with Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib, but Americans deserve a President who stands with them at home and abroad, regardless of policy disagreements. President Trump’s call for Israel to deny entry to my colleagues is the work of dictators and authoritarians, not an American president. It’s not just un-American, it’s the opposite of American. This outrageous request must be withdrawn, and Israel’s decision should be reversed immediately.”

Ruppersberger (D-MD) 8/15: press release - “As our closest ally in the Middle East, there has never been a day when I have doubted the need to protect Israel and defend our shared commitments to peace and stability. As a Defense Appropriator, I have cast many votes to that effect. The United States and Israel have also shared commitments to democracy and human rights as well as the freedoms of religion and speech.  In its decision to prevent Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar from entering its country, the Israeli government is not doing itself any favors. A visit is a unique opportunity to see first-hand the threats Israel faces and gain an appreciation for its painful history. They should welcome these women, and begin a conversation rooted in respect and diplomacy. I urge the Israeli Government to reconsider this decision.” [tweet]

Sanders (I-VT) 8/15: It is disgusting that a bigot like Trump is attacking @RashidaTlaib and @IlhanMN in this way. Opposing Netanyahu's policies is not “hating the Jewish people.” We must stand together against those who promote hatred and racism in Israel, Palestine, the U.S. and everywhere.

Sanders (I-VT) 8/15: Banning Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib from entering Israel and Palestine is a sign of enormous disrespect to these elected leaders, to the United States Congress, and to the principles of democracy. The Israeli government should reverse this decision and allow them in.

Scanlon (D-PA) 8/15: It’s a sad day for our nation when the President of the United States sides with a foreign country against duly elected representatives of the American people.

Schatz (D-HI) 8/15: Israel isn’t Bibi, and America isn’t Trump. Support for the America - Israel relationship is not measured by belligerence towards Muslims or extremism towards Israel’s critics. Not allowing Reps Omar and Talib to enter Israel would be a grave mistake. Cooler heads must prevail.

Schatz (D-HI) 8/15: In response to Trump tweet accusing Omar and Tlaib of hating Israel and all Jews, “Just a quick reminder not to equate belligerence on behalf of the right wing government of Israel with support for Jews or Israel. And while I still have room in this tweet, please don’t speak for us. We will speak for ourselves. Thanks.”

Schiff (D-CA) 8/15: Not content to provoke division at home, Trump now enlists our allies to do so abroad. Denying Reps. Omar and Tlaib entry to Israel and the West Bank is short-sighted and wrong. Israel does itself no favors by allowing itself to be used in Trump’s poisonous electioneering.

Schneider (D-IL) 8/15: press release, “...I respect Israel’s right to control who enters the country, and its responsibility to defend against the unceasing efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state. However, I fear the decision to block Representatives Tlaib and Omar will not protect Israel but rather will amplify Tlaib’s and Omar’s positions and increase support for the Global BDS Movement. It will provide a false, negative narrative of Israel as weak and fearful—a misperception that enemies of Israel will most certainly seek to exploit…” 

Schrier (D-WA) 8/15: Thread - The decision by our President and by Prime Minister Netanyahu to bar admission to Israel for two of my fellow congresswomen is wrong. Going to Israel is one of the best ways to get a sense of the nuances of the current Israeli and Palestinian conflict. I hope that when my colleagues are able to visit Israel, they take the opportunity to meet with people from multiple backgrounds and perspectives in order to get a more complete picture of this complex region. Barring these Representatives is an affront to free speech, and I hope that Mr. Netanyahu will reconsider

Schumer (D-NY) 8/15: press release - “Denying entry to members of the United States Congress is a sign of weakness, not strength. It will only hurt the U.S.-Israeli relationship and support for Israel in America. No democratic society should fear an open debate. Many strong supporters of Israel will be deeply disappointed in this decision, which the Israeli government should reverse.” [Tweet]

Shalala (D-FL) 8/15: Let's be clear: the president is deliberately trying to politicize & undermine bipartisan support for one of our strongest allies. I don't always agree with my colleagues' stances on Israel, but I believe it's best to let them learn firsthand about the challenges Israel faces.

Sherill (D-NJ) 8/15: Thread - I strongly disagree with the decision to bar Members of Congress from entering Israel and believe it should be reversed. I believe in a strong partnership with Israel and the benefit of visiting Israel firsthand. Furthermore, the President should not be undermining the Congress of the United States — a co-equal branch of government. 

Sherman (D-CA) 8/15: Thread -Israel is dedicated to democracy and openness. It has welcomed Muslim government officials from many countries and has tried to get more to visit. It is shameful that @realDonaldTrump would put coercive pressure on a small country less than 2% of our size on such an issue. Even more shameful that he would coerce an ally to thwart Congress in the performance of its Constitutional duties. And even more shameful that he would deliberately undermine support for Israel among a large portion of the US public for his own political gain. #pseudoZionist 

Sires (D-NJ) 8/15: Thread -I am disturbed that the President has taken a grudge with two of my colleagues to the international stage and that #Israel has listened to him after Ambassador Dermer explicitly stated that no Member of Congress would be denied entry. No duly elected official should be banned from visiting an ally and doing so damages future dialogue and efforts to resolve the region’s violent tensions in a meaningful way.

Speier (D-CA) 8/15: These are the actions of a dictator. Putin would do this to someone who opposes him. What’s next? @POTUS will try to jail them or anyone who disagrees with him? Outrageous does not begin to describe his actions.

Stevens (D-MI) 8/15: Israel should welcome any Member of Congress to experience the beautiful, accepting, and democratic nation I recently saw firsthand. I urge Prime Minister Netanyahu to reverse this decision to deny two of my colleagues from entering.

Suozzi (D-NY) 8/15: Thread - While I disagree with Representatives Omar and Tlaib over their position on Israel, the anti-Semitic language they have used in the past, and their support of the BDS movement, I believe it was wrong for Israel to deny duly elected Members of Congress the opportunity to visit. It is only through seeing and experiencing Israel firsthand, that one can truly learn, appreciate and understand the history, the strategic importance it plays in the region for security, prosperity, and its democratic values.

Swalwell (D-CA) 8/15: My colleagues @Ilhan & @RepRashida should be allowed to visit #Israel. Democracies don’t ban visiting leaders from other democracies.

Trahan (D-MA) 8/15: Thread - The ban on my colleagues -- @Ilhan and @RepRashida -- from entering Israel is counterproductive and out of line with our two democracies’ respective commitments to the free exchange of speech and ideas. It’s wrong that any Member of Congress would be denied the opportunity to visit Israel. This decision should be reversed. 

Torres (D-CA) 8/15: We must not allow the racist politics of @realDonaldTrump to dictate who can and cannot travel to a region. Banning @Ilhan & @RepRashida from entering Israel effectively jeopardizes bipartisan commitment to peace in the region and democracy we’ve worked so hard to achieve.

Trone (D-MD) 8/15: Thread I strongly disagree with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to deny entry to Israel to Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib. Members of Congress should be allowed the opportunity to visit Israel - no qualifications. Israel is our strongest ally in the region. We should encourage members of Congress to learn and engage in dialogue about the importance of this relationship. We must work together to bring peace and a two state solution to the region. I urge a reversal of this decision.

Van Hollen (D-MD) 8/15: Netanyahu’s decision to conspire with Trump to ban two American congresswomen from visiting Israel shows a fear of free speech and debate. It is a dangerous and unacceptable precedent.

Veasey (D-TX) 8/15: Thread - Representatives Omar and Tlaib are duly elected members of Congress and should be respected as such. I’m a strong supporter of Israel and fierce opponent of anti-Semitism– that’s why I’m so concerned that President Trump is conflating support for Israel with his bigotry against Immigrants, Muslims, and Americans of color. Nothing could be worse for Israel’s long-term interests.

Velazquez (D-NY) 8/15: Thread - The decision by Israel to deny two sitting Members of Congress entry will make it more difficult for productive, meaningful dialogue between our two countries to take place. I strongly urge Israel to reconsider this decision. For the President to encourage another country to keep out two duly elected Members of the U.S. House of Representatives does damage to our democratic norms. It is beneath the dignity of the office of the President. @realDonaldTrump has demonstrated again he is unfit for office

Warren (D-MA) 8/15: Tweet - “Israel doesn't advance its case as a tolerant democracy or unwavering US ally by barring elected members of Congress from visiting because of their political views. This would be a shameful, unprecedented move. I urge Israel’s government to allow @IlhanMN and @RashidaTlaib entry.

Wasserman Shultz (D-FL) 8/15: Thread - It is a mistake to deny Members of the U.S. Congress entry into Israel. Both the U.S. and Israel were founded on the premise that democracy flourishes with healthy dialogue and debate, including the expression of policy positions with which I disagree. This decision will only embolden those trying to create a wedge between the U.S. and Israel. President Trump’s untimely meddling only makes the situation worse for both our nations by politicizing support for Israel and their visit.

Watson-Coleman (D-NJ) 8/15: Thread - The U.S. has long supported Israel. To ban two members of Congress from attending a delegation to Israel is disgraceful. The Decision by Natanyahu and the Israeli government is disrespectful to the Institution of Congress, is damaging to the U.S.-Israel relationship, and smacks of racism. Trump’s encouragement of this decision is outrageous!  Netanyahu came to speak to Congress in 2015 without the support and engagement of the Obama Admin. And now he has the nerve to turn around and ban admission of members of Congress? It’s downright disrespectful!

Wild (D-PA) 8/15: Thread - I am deeply disappointed by the decision to restrict members of Congress from visiting Israel and the West Bank. During my visit with a large group of both Democratic and Republican members of Congress, we were assured that Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib would be permitted entry.  This action doesn't advance dialogue or the peace process and sets a dangerous precedent. I don't support BDS. That's why I voted for the anti-BDS resolution, but I don't believe this is about BDS. We are leaning on our leaders to exercise their influence & reverse this decision.

Yarmuth (D-KY) 8/15: The decision to bar @RepRashida and @Ilhan from entering Israel is yet another example of the newfound levels of politicization and disrespect that have taken over U.S.-Israel relations under PM Netanyahu and President Trump. That is the true disgrace here.

 

  1. On the Record (general)

 

Mast (R-FL) 8/15: Combating The Dangerous Anti-Israel Movement

Sanders (I-VT) 8/14: “The role of the United States must be to bring parties together to resolve conflict. When we are in the White House we will push the leadership on both sides to reach an agreement that creates peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians.”

McCarthy (R-TX) 8/14: Quoted in the Free Beacon re CA curriculum stating “we need to know why and how a blatantly anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, factually inaccurate curriculum made its way through the ranks of California's Department of Education" and that “Taxpayer dollars should never be approved to fund a curriculum that whitewashes Israel's history while simultaneously promoting the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to destroy the state of Israel...This was not simply an oversight—the California Department of Education's attempt to institutionalize anti-Semitism is not only discriminatory and intolerant, it's dangerous."

Williams (R-TX) 8/14: Tweet after meeting with Israeli consul general, “Great to meet you. Thanks for stopping by. America will always stand with Israel.” [CG tweeted: “Starting a 2 day marathon of meetings& events in Austin.Great first meeting with @RepRWilliams .We talked about the deep & important alliance between Israel & the USA. Congressman Williams showed me his ‘7 main platform ideas’. no’ 7 says “ Always stand with Israel’. IMPRESSIVE’]

Massie (R-KY) 8/12: Tweet cheering MKs letter opposing H Res 246 (based on their opposition to two-state solution)  “I took some heat for being the only Republican to vote NAY on this bill. I stand by my vote. 21 members of the Israeli Knesset had an issue with this bill, because they read it too.”

Cruz (R-TX) 8/12: Tweet - “I led a bipartisan letter with 35 of my Senate colleagues condemning the EU’s anti-Semitic policy. Not only would this labeling policy further the BDS movement, it would also delegitimize Israel & negatively impact future peace negotiations.” [with link to 2015 article about letter opposing correct labeling of settlement products]

Trone (R-MD) 8/8: Tweet following murder of 19-year old Israeli settler in West Bank, “I am sending my deepest condolences to the Sorek family and the Yeshiva community. We must stand together and condemn anti-Semitism in all forms.

Cole (R-OK) 8/6: Column - “We Stand with Israel”

Smith (R-NE) 8/2: Column - “An Extraordinary Partnership” [the US-Israel partnership]

House Committee on Oversight & Reform 7/22: Committee Investigation Shows No Impropriety in Nuclear Energy Transfers to Saudi Arabia [text of staff report is here]

 

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