Prominent pro-Israel group, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) suggested Thursday that it opposed a move by Israel, supported by President Donald Trump, to bar Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar and from entering the country.
AIPAC, which aggressively advocates for a staunch alliance between the US and Israel, has frequently sided with Trump administration policies that have supported Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, making its opposition to the travel ban especially notable and surprising.
Omar and Tlaib, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, have frequently criticized Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and expressed support for the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to end international support for Israel because of its discriminatory policies toward Palestinians.
That backing was cited by the Israeli government as the basis for blocking the pair from entering the country.
The two congresswomen have previously been criticized by AIPAC. Omar drew controversy earlier this year for suggesting Republican support of Israel is fueled by donations from AIPAC.
The Minnesota Democrat later apologized, but reaffirmed what she called the “problematic role of lobbyists in our politics,” including AIPAC.
She insinuated pro-Israel groups were pushing “allegiance to a foreign country.”
Netanyahu spoke at the annual AIPAC conference via video earlier this year and condemned Omar’s comments, saying, “it’s not about the Benjamins” and that the “reason the people of America support Israel is not because they want our money, it’s because they share our values.“
The move to bar the two US congresswomen from Israel was supported by Trump, who has frequently criticized Omar and Tlaib and accused them of being anti-Semitic.
The decision to bar the congresswomen, however, amounts to a remarkable step by the Israeli government to punish political opponents of the US President.