Omar blasts 'cruel reality' of Israeli occupation

Ilhan Omar - AP image

Calls on members of Congress to visit Israel.

Posted: Aug 19, 2019 6:56 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib sharply criticized Israel on Monday for denying them entry to the Jewish state and called on fellow members of Congress to visit while they cannot.

Omar, of Minnesota, suggested President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were suppressing the lawmakers' ability to carry out their oversight role.

"I would encourage my colleagues to visit, meet with the people we were going to meet with, see the things we were going to see, hear the stories we were going to hear," Omar said at a news conference. "We cannot let Trump and Netanyahu succeed in hiding the cruel reality of the occupation from us."

At Trump's urging, Israel denied entry to the first two Muslim women elected to Congress over their support for a Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions global movement. Tlaib and Omar, who had planned to visit Jerusalem and the Israeli-occupied West Bank on a tour organized by a Palestinian group, are outspoken critics of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.

Tlaib, a U.S.-born Palestinian-American from Michigan, had also planned to visit her aging grandmother in the West Bank. Israeli officials later relented and said she could visit her grandmother after all.

But Tlaib got emotional as she told how her "Sitty" — an Arabic term of endearment for one's grandmother that's spelled different ways in English — urged her during a tearful late-night family phone call not to come under what they considered such humiliating circumstances.

"She said I'm her dream manifested. I'm her free bird," Tlaib recalled. "So why would I come back and be caged and bow down when my election rose her head up high, gave her dignity for the first time?"

Tlaib and Omar were joined Monday by Minnesota residents who said they had been directly affected by travel restrictions in the past. They included Lana Barkawi, a Palestinian-American, who lamented that she has never been able to visit her parents' homeland.

Barkawi said she had a chance to visit her father's village in the West Bank near Nablus during a family visit to Jordan about 25 years ago, but her parents decided not to risk crossing the border.

"My father could not put himself to be in a position where an Israeli soldier is the person with control over his entry into his homeland," Barkawi said. "This is an enduring trauma that he and my mother live."

Before Israel's decision, Trump tweeted it would be a "show of weakness" to allow the two representatives in. Israel controls entry and exit to the West Bank, which it seized in the 1967 Mideast war along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, territories the Palestinians want for a future state.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley kept up the administration's criticism of the two lawmakers.

"Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar have a well-documented history of anti-Semitic comments, anti-Semitic social media posts and anti-Semitic relationships," he said in a statement. "Israel has the right to prevent people who want to destroy it from entering the country — and Democrats' pointless Congressional inquiries here in America cannot change the laws Israel has passed to protect itself."

Supporters say the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is a nonviolent way of protesting Israel's military rule over Palestinians, but Israel says it aims to delegitimize the state and eventually wipe it off the map.

The two congresswomen are part of the "squad" of four liberal House newcomers — all women of color — whom Trump has labeled as the face of the Democratic Party as he runs for reelection. The Republican president subjected them to a series of racist tweets last month in which he called on them to "go back" to their "broken" countries. They are U.S. citizens — Tlaib was born in the U.S. and Omar became a citizen after moving to the U.S. as a refugee from war-torn Somalia.

"There is no way that we are ever, ever going to allow people to tear us down, to see us cry out of pain, to ever make us feel like our (citizenship) certificate is less than theirs," Omar said. "So we are going to hold our head up high. And we are going to fight this administration and the oppressive Netanyahu administration until we take our last breath."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 676505

Reported Deaths: 8049
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1396591852
Ramsey58216942
Dakota51771493
Anoka47702478
Washington30460309
Stearns24688240
St. Louis20106335
Scott19489144
Wright18332163
Olmsted15650110
Sherburne13375100
Carver1198951
Clay905895
Rice9047119
Blue Earth857947
Crow Wing7723101
Kandiyohi740988
Chisago706157
Otter Tail660990
Benton638799
Mower551838
Winona549552
Goodhue546180
Douglas530084
Itasca512870
Beltrami496972
Steele496321
McLeod495262
Isanti487170
Morrison463862
Nobles445450
Polk428275
Becker427459
Freeborn426438
Lyon390654
Carlton387259
Nicollet371947
Pine371526
Mille Lacs351760
Brown343543
Cass340335
Le Sueur337929
Todd318334
Meeker301749
Waseca286025
Martin259033
Wabasha23984
Dodge23833
Roseau229723
Hubbard226841
Houston201616
Renville198247
Redwood195641
Fillmore190710
Pennington188421
Wadena182723
Faribault177625
Cottonwood175824
Sibley173910
Chippewa169839
Kanabec163529
Watonwan153911
Aitkin153838
Rock137919
Jackson134112
Pope12858
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Yellow Medicine123820
Swift116419
Murray114810
Koochiching113019
Stevens104611
Marshall100918
Clearwater100218
Lake90721
Wilkin89014
Lac qui Parle84624
Big Stone6724
Grant6628
Mahnomen6629
Lincoln6424
Norman6319
Kittson53122
Unassigned53093
Red Lake4667
Traverse4205
Lake of the Woods3814
Cook2060

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 426400

Reported Deaths: 6339
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk67341672
Linn25698353
Scott22828261
Black Hawk19121334
Woodbury16940233
Johnson1659690
Dubuque14547218
Pottawattamie13058183
Dallas12746102
Story1187148
Warren685993
Webster6304102
Cerro Gordo6212102
Clinton620097
Des Moines594482
Muscatine5781108
Marshall564280
Sioux542775
Jasper516575
Lee511078
Wapello4993128
Buena Vista472942
Marion449083
Plymouth434083
Henry339940
Jones331158
Bremer325365
Crawford321644
Carroll317053
Washington315754
Benton312656
Boone308736
Mahaska275453
Dickinson270846
Kossuth251471
Jackson246044
Clay245729
Tama238273
Delaware234643
Buchanan233938
Hardin230847
Page221624
Cedar220525
Fayette220345
Wright217641
Winneshiek215937
Hamilton211752
Harrison198875
Clayton194458
Madison193820
Butler188836
Floyd187742
Mills185224
Poweshiek181036
Cherokee179440
Iowa176425
Allamakee176252
Lyon174441
Jefferson169138
Calhoun168313
Hancock167335
Winnebago164231
Grundy158835
Cass155556
Louisa154949
Shelby151739
Appanoose151249
Emmet149541
Franklin148524
Humboldt147226
Sac144722
Union144237
Mitchell141643
Guthrie138132
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Clarke125024
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Howard115622
Monroe114033
Ida107538
Davis103125
Pocahontas99023
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Lucas94523
Worth9268
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