U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday distanced himself from supporters' chants of "send her back" after he criticized Somali-born Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar at a rally in North Carolina.
"I felt a little bit badly about it," Trump told reporters at the White House when asked about the chants, which drew an outpouring of criticism. "I would say that I was not happy with it. I disagreed with it. But again I didn't say that. They did. And I disagreed with.
Omar was one of the targets of several racist tweets the president tweeted, in which he called on freshmen Democratic congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Omar to "go back" to the "broken and crime infested places from which the came," despite the fact that only Omar was born outside the United States.
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Trump also wrote that the congresswomen — all of whom are women of color — “originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world.”
The president came under fire globally for the his comments.
The Democratic-led U.S. House voted Tuesday to condemn Trump for what it labeled “racist comments,” despite near-solid GOP opposition and the president’s own insistence that he doesn’t have a “racist bone” in his body.
Trump hasn’t shown signs of being rattled by the House rebuke, and called an impeachment resolution that failed in Congress earlier Wednesday “ridiculous.” The condemnation carries no legal repercussions and his latest harangues struck a chord with supporter in Greenville, whose chants of “Four more years!” and “Build that wall!” bounced off the rafters.
Omar, along with Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, is planning a visit to Israel and the West Bank in the coming weeks. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will have to decide whether they would be let in to the country, over the support they have voiced for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
Israeli law allows authorities to deny entry into the country by individuals who support boycotting the country. 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.
Due to the sensitivity of the congresswomen's planned visit and its possible ramifications on Israel-U.S. relations, Haaretz has learned Netanyahu would be asked to be the one to make the call on the issue.
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