Arab Israeli Lawmaker Sends Letter of Solidarity to Omar, Tlaib: Trump's Racism Is Like Netanyahu's

MK Aida Touma-Sliman writes to congresswomen that her party is doing 'whatever is in our power' to let them visit Israel despite possible ban over their support for BDS

Aida Touma-Sliman, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib.
Emil Salman, Brendan Smialowski / AFP, REUTERS/Erin Scott

Arab Israeli Knesset member Aida Touma-Sliman sent official solidarity letters to Democratic Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib “to express my appreciation for your tireless work on behalf of the Palestinian people“ and “in light of President Trump’s recent attacks."

Touma-Sliman wrote: “When I read of President Trump’s vicious attacks, I was struck by the similarity between his racist incitement and that practiced by his close ally PM Benjamin Netanyahu.”

She added that she is committed to doing “whatever is in our power” to enable the congresswomen's planned visit to Israel and the West Bank and asked to meet to with them together with "people who are fighting for peace and freedom from within Israel – Palestinians and Jews alike."

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Touma-Sliman asked to share with them her "perspective on the occupation, on the discrimination faced by Palestinian citizens within Israel, and on the particular challenges facing Palestinian women." 

On Thursday, Haaretz reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will decide whether they would be let in to the country, due to the sensitivity of the congresswomen's planned visit and its possible ramifications on Israeli-U.S. relations.  But officials with knowledge of the subject later said that Netanyahu is expected to ask the opinion of the National Security Council.  

Israeli law allows authorities to deny entry into the country by individuals who support boycotting the country, which Tlaib and Omar have expressed. However, the Foreign Ministry has the authority to recommend to the Strategic Affairs Ministry and the Interior Ministry issuing waivers for political or diplomatic figures, if it deems denying them entry would harm Israel's foreign relations.

Omar and Tlaib broke barriers when they were elected as the first Muslim U.S. congresswomen in November. Omar, who was born in Somalia and immigrated at a young age to Minnesota, and Tlaib, who was born in Michigan to Palestinian parents, have been outspoken about their views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, garnering accusations of anti-Semitism for their statements and support for the BDS movement.

On Tuesday, Omar introduced a House resolution that "opposes unconstitutional legislative efforts to limit the use of boycotts to further civil rights at home and abroad," and affirms Americans' right to pursue boycotts "in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad."

Second on the slate of the the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (the far-left party better known by its Hebrew acronym, Hadash) Aida Touma-Sliman made history four years ago when she became the first Arab woman to head a parliamentary committee, serving as head of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality.