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Addressing Israel ban, Tlaib tears up recalling childhood visits to West Bank

In her first press conference since she and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) were barred from entering Israel, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) teared up while recalling the conditions that she and her family were subjected to during childhood visits to the West Bank.

"As a young girl visiting Palestine to see my grandparents and extended family, I watched as my mother had to go through dehumanizing checkpoints even though she was a United States citizen and proud American. I was there where when my sitty was in a terrible car accident and my cousins and I cried so she could have access to the best hospitals, which were in Jerusalem. I remember shaking with fear when checkpoints appeared in the small village of Beit Ur al-Fauqa, tanks and guns everywhere. I remember visiting east Jerusalem with my then-husband, and him escorted off the bus, although he was a United States citizen, just so security forces could harass him. All I can do as my sitty's granddaughter, as the granddaughter of a woman who lives in occupied territory, is to elevate her voice by exposing the truth the only way I know how."

Catch up quick: Omar and Tlaib, the first 2 Muslim women elected to Congress, were set to visit Israel this week until the nation issued a formal ban over their support for the BDS movement, which calls for boycotting Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu backtracked on his decision to allow Tlaib and Omar to enter the country after pressure from President Trump.

  • Netanyahu said in a statement last week that the lawmakers' "sole purpose is to strengthen the boycott and delegitimize Israel," arguing that their itinerary showed they did not have any interest in meeting with Israeli government officials.
  • Rep. Omar disputed Netanyahu's claim during the press conference, stating that she planned to meet directly with members of the Israeli parliament and Israeli security officials, along with Palestinian civil society groups, former Israel Defense Forces soldiers and others.
  • An itinerary published by Omar's office does not appear to show any meetings scheduled with Israeli government officials.

Of note: Tlaib was later granted permission by the Israeli government to visit her family in the West Bank, but decided not to go after discussing it with her grandmother. "She said I'm her dream manifested, I'm her free bird, so why would I come back and be caged and bow down?" Tlaib added.

Go deeper: Decision to bar Omar and Tlaib widens rift between Israel and Democrats