Ambassador Friedman Statement on Israeli Government Decision To Deny Entry to Tlaib/Omar Congressional Delegation

STATEMENT OF AMBASSADOR DAVID FRIEDMAN WITH REGARD TO THE DECISION OF THE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAEL TO DENY ENTRY TO DELEGATION LED BY CONGRESSWOMEN RASHIDA TLAIB AND ILHAN OMAR

Jerusalem, Israel
August 15, 2019

The United States supports and respects the decision of the Government of Israel to deny entry to the Tlaib/Omar Delegation.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel is not free speech. Rather, it is no less than economic warfare designed to delegitimize and ultimately destroy the Jewish State. Israel properly has enacted laws to bar entry of BDS activists under the circumstances present here, and it has every right to protect its borders against those activists in the same manner as it would bar entrants with more conventional weapons.

Initially, Israel had indicated that it would accept the Tlaib/Omar Delegation, and use their visit as an opportunity to engage with and educate the delegation members with regard to Israel’s vibrant and robust democracy, its religious tolerance and its ethnic diversity. Unfortunately, the itinerary of the Tlaib/Omar Delegation leaves no room for that opportunity. In contrast to the nearly 70 freshmen members of Congress who just recently completed, or who are currently pursuing, a balanced visit to Israel that includes meetings with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders, the Tlaib/Omar Delegation has limited its exposure to tours organized by the most strident of BDS activists. This trip, pure and simple, is nothing more than an effort to fuel the BDS engine that Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar so vigorously support.

Like the United States, Israel is a nation of laws. We support Israel’s application of its laws in this case.