Arlene Bridges Samuels
The Eclectic Evangelical @InEssentialsUnity

Omar & Tlaib Denied Themselves Entry into the Jewish State. Israel is Right.

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Before and since January 2019 when Somalian American Ilhan Omar and Palestinian American Rashida Tlaib were sworn in as members of Congress, they have made their positions about the Jewish state crystal clear. Tlaib was outspoken from the beginning of her term that she was planning what I called in my January BLOG “her Apartheid trip to Israel” since that’s how she views the Jewish state. Let’s not forget that the duo chose not to come to Israel with the 32 Democrat freshmen class members of Congress who traveled to Israel for a week arriving on August 5.

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely put it this way: “We won’t allow those who deny our right to exist in this world to enter Israel. In principle, this is a very justified decision.” I salute her.

In off-election years, every freshman is invited on this trip hosted by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF) affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Their viewpoint on Israel did not disqualify them from the invitation. It was extended to ALL freshmen. Omar and Tlaib disqualified themselves when they said NO. So let’s stop all the ranting about how awful Israel’s leaders are for preventing them from entering their country. Put the responsibility where it belongs; with two members of congress who don’t play well with others and wanted no part of the trip with their colleagues.

Stop for just a moment and think about this. Had the duo joined their Democrat colleagues, the itinerary would have included meetings with Palestinian leaders and possibly Palestinian business leaders. Yet, they chose to let their disdain for Israel rule their decision. Not only that. They chose to disassociate themselves from their own Democrat party participants. And I’m sure they were aware that when the freshmen Republicans arrived-where both groups were scheduled to learn and travel together for two days-that they were not in favor of that bipartisan arrangement. Omar and Tlaib are not team players. They obviously did not want to be under the leadership of Steny Hoyer, the pro-Israel House Majority Leader leading the trip nor conform to the idea of positive interactions with Israelis..Jewish, Arab, Druze, Christian or Ethiopian. Since their contentious term began, they have already shown Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer that they refuse to rein themselves in and seek comity.

Omar and Tlaib’s high profile actions and words since January indicate that they don’t want to learn even how congress works, unlike most first-timers. It’s all about them and their aggressive agenda on many fronts. Having said that, it’s not hard to imagine their stance if they had stepped inside Israel.

The presence of two who have branded themselves as antiSemites also plays into Israel’s security. Why do I mention this? Their itinerary was still somewhat under wraps. They apparently faced difficulty locating a sponsoring organization. But who was it? How would they have comported themselves? Is it reasonable, based on their history, to envision them scattering conflict everywhere they went? You may think this is a stretch but would they have called for a Third Intifada? What would have happened on the ultra-sensitive Temple Mount?

When all is said and done, the blame rests on their own choices. The blame rests in their ironclad fist of intransigence, their wholehearted support of the BDS movement, and rejection of an invitation. Not on President Trump. Not on the AIEF. Not any Israeli leaders. Omar and Tlaib had their chance. They blew it. They didn’t want it. Now they-and most of the world-will have a useful opportunity to slander Israel. It would have happened anyway even if Israel agreed to their visit.

Place the blame where it belongs; on two rogue Members of Congress whose dominant agenda demonizing and demeaning Israel seems more important than their constituents in Michigan and Minnesota. Remember this fact. Israel, the only free nation in the middle east-the world’s only Jewish state where a million and a half Arabs are citizens, and where the Muslim religion is protected-has the sovereign right to accept or deny any visitors.

About the Author
For almost two decades, Arlene Bridges Samuels has held pioneering positions with Israel Always, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, (AIPAC) and International Christian Embassy Jerusalem's project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Traveling to Israel since 1990, she is now an author at the Times of Israel, contributor to The Christian Broadcast Network and speaker, consultant, and networker. Her articles have appeared in Philos Project, The Institute on Religion and Democracy, Southern Jewish Life, ICEJ's Word from Jerusalem, Mercy Ships, and Concerned Women for America. She shares her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on Facebook and is an active member of a small Anglican church. After attending Winthrop University in her home state of South Carolina, Arlene earned her Masters degree at the University of Alabama.
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