Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called out Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D) and Ilhan Omar (D) on their support for anti-Israel activists.
According to reports, Netanyahu recently penned a statement to U.S. lawmakers in response to a letter received by the Israeli government concerning the deportation of one Omar Shakir from the country.
Israel decided to not renew the visa of Mr. Shakir, the regional director of Human Rights Watch, after evidence emerged that he was actively supporting the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement, the international effort to economically isolate the State of Israel.
Netanyahu made a strong implicit rebuke of Reps. Omar and Tlaib, saying the two were “the antithesis to the strong support for Israel” on Capitol Hill. Although the prime minister’s statement made no explicit reference to either congresswoman, it was clear who was being referenced. The pair were driving forces in the sending of the appeal to Israel in early May, on Shakir’s behalf. This is not the first (or the second) time these Democratic lawmakers have been caught up in controversy surrounding Israel. The two have received major pushback on the subject, even from members of their own party. The issue has been a particularly sore point of contention with the Trump administration which has been highly critical of anti-Israel activism, branding it in many instances as a form of anti-Semitism.
Netanyahu further wrote: “The existence of a strong and vibrant civil society is a fundamental component of any healthy democracy. We are proud of the fact that thousands of nongovernmental organizations…operate in Israel uninterruptedly, exercising their right to freedom of speech. Our concern, however, is with those organizations and/or individuals that under the banner of justice and human rights actively work to delegitimize the State of Israel and negate its very right to exist.”