NGO petitions to prevent US Rep. Ilhan Omar from entering Israel

Shurat HaDin asks court to demand that Interior Minister Aryeh Deri bar Democrat lawmaker over her support for boycotts against Jewish state

In this March 6, 2019, file photo, US Rep. Ilhan Omar sits with fellow Democrats on the House Education and Labor Committee during a bill markup, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
In this March 6, 2019, file photo, US Rep. Ilhan Omar sits with fellow Democrats on the House Education and Labor Committee during a bill markup, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

An Israeli NGO has filed a petition to have US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar barred from entering the country when she arrives for an upcoming tour because she supports boycotts of Israel.

Shurat HaDin told The Times of Israel it had asked the Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday to demand that Interior Minister Aryeh Deri exercise his power to deny Omar entry.

Earlier this month, Omar introduced a bill championing the right of US citizens to boycott foreign countries.

Under a controversial law that Israel enacted in 2017, the state can prohibit any foreigner from entering the country who “knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel.” But it can also issue waivers for visiting politicians or government officials out of diplomatic concerns.

Last week, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer told The Times of Israel that authorities will not prevent Omar, the representative for Minnesota, and Palestinian-American Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan, from entering the country when they arrive for a planned tour in August.

Both lawmakers have expressed their support for the pro-Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, known as BDS.

Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, speaks at an event in Detroit, on June 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya/File)

Israel will grant them entry “out of respect for the US Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America,” Dermer said.

Shuran HaDin said its petition included proof of Omar’s activities supporting the BDS movement, including her sponsorship of a bill to allow boycotting Israel earlier this month.

The NGO also cited a recent tweet by US President Donald Trump calling on Omar and Tlaib to apologize to Israel, the White House and the American people due to their “horrible statements.”

That was part of a days-long attack by Trump on four Democrat congresswomen of color in which he also told them to “go back” to where they came from, and accused them of hating Israel.

Liberal US Jews said the president was trying to “weaponize” Israel to defend his racists tweets.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, chairwoman of Shurat HaDin, the Israel Law Center (Courtesy: Shurat HaDin)

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, an attorney who is Shuran HaDin’s founder, criticized the Israeli government for asking students in the US and other countries to stand up to BDS activists on campus, often endangering themselves, while not serving as a “role model” and fighting the movement with all the tools at its disposal.

“Israel shouldn’t let others, including young students, fight this battle for it, and in contrast surrender to the phenomenon here in Israel due to the prestige and status of certain important BDS activists,” she added in a statement.

The US House of Representatives last week overwhelmingly passed a resolution rejecting BDS, despite concern by some Democrats, including Omar and Tlaib, that the measure could cause infighting within the party leading up to the 2020 election.

Last winter, Omar was intensely criticized for saying that pro-Israel lobby AIPAC paid US politicians to take pro-Israel positions, which some criticized as promoting an anti-Semitic trope. Omar has since apologized but recently told CBS News that she did not regret what she said.

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