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Good for Israel, Say Rabbis, for Refusing Entry to Omar and Tlaib

August 16, 2019 - 6:00am
Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib
Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib

The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR Florida) on Thursday posted on Facebook sharp criticism of Israel and President Trump's support for the Jewish state's denying entry to U.S. Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar.

"What is Israel Hiding From These Muslim Congresswomen? #LetThemIn," reads the post. "... (The Israeli government is) preventing one from seeing her grandmother and both from acting as firsthand congressional observers of Israel’s anti-Palestinian segregationist policies and visiting one of the holiest sites in Islam." 

The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), representing more than 1,000 traditional rabbis in matters of public policy, quickly and strongly fired back.

The group commended the government of Israel Thursday for blocking entry to Omar, D-Minn. and Tlaib, D-Mich., under the Israeli law that bars entry to noncitizens who advocate for a boycott of Israel.  Which Omar and Tlaib do, the rabbis said.

"Besides the fact that they requested no meetings with Israeli officials, wishing only to travel to 'Palestine,' these are not people who would be convinced by seeing 'the facts on the ground,'" said Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, vice president of the CJV. "Omar says that Israel's careful self-defense is 'hypnotizing the world' regarding its 'evil-doings,' and that her colleagues, only support Israel due to being bought out. 

"Tlaib rewrites Middle Eastern history," says Schonfeld, "to claim that Arabs gave Jews a 'safe haven' at their own expense. Both are sponsors of a resolution claiming that boycotting Israel is 'pursuit of civil and human rights' while comparing Israel to Nazi Germany. Their hatred will not be cured by meetings with the Palestinian Authority, which generously supports those who murder Jews."

The CJV pointed out that while supporters of the anti-Israel boycott known as 'BDS' claim to want peace, the movement's founder openly calls for the eradication of Israel and says BDS will not cease until that is accomplished. In actuality, claims the Coalition, BDS continues the long and hateful history of economic warfare against the Jewish community, sloganized by the Nazis as "Kauft nicht bei Juden." Israeli law calls for vocal supporters of Israel's destruction to be denied entry to the country, in line with laws in the U.S., United Kingdom and elsewhere, barring entry to those whose conduct "is not conducive to the public good," as Great Britain puts it.

"There were a number of valid political arguments for permitting them entry," added Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer, chairman of the CJV Rabbinic Circle, "but that is what they were -- political, claiming that American congresswomen should be above the law. The idea of equal justice under the law is a key principle that distinguishes civilized nations, and should be compromised only for safety, national security and international cooperation. None of those applied here -- President Trump said that Israel should bar them, indicating that doing so would not negatively impact Israel's security or its relationship with the United States."

The Times of Israel, one of Israel's most influential newspapers, takes an opposite point of view. "Closing our doors to these pernicious critics gives them a clear victory and denies us the opportunity to even make our case ... as (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu should know best of all," the paper wrote in a Thursday editorial.

However, the Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), the largest rabbinic public policy organization in America, articulates and advocates for public policy positions based upon traditional Jewish thought. CAIR Florida is based in Orlando.

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