US President Donald Trump on Tuesday ramped up his attacks on congresswoman Rashida Tlaib after the Michigan Democrat got visibly emotional during a press conference discussing her ban from visiting Israel.
“Sorry, I don’t buy Rep. Tlaib’s tears. I have watched her violence, craziness and, most importantly, WORDS, for far too long. Now tears?” Trump tweeted.
“She hates Israel and all Jewish people. She is an anti-Semite. She and her 3 friends are the new face of the Democrat Party. Live with it!”
Tlaib and Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar — the first two Muslim women elected to Congress — were denied entry to Israel last week over their support for the Palestinian-led boycott movement.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib on talking with her family about Israel's decision to restrict her travel: My grandmother "said I'm her dream manifested. I am her free bird. So why would I come back and be caged and bow down?"
— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) August 19, 2019
Tlaib, a US-born Palestinian-American from Michigan, had also planned to visit her aging grandmother in the West Bank. Israeli officials later relented and said she could visit her 90-year-old grandmother if she did not engage in politics, but Tlaib then declined.
Speaking alongside Omar at a Monday press conference, Tlaib got emotional as she told how her “Sitty” — an Arabic term of endearment for grandmother — urged her during a tearful late-night family phone call not to come under what they considered such humiliating circumstances.
“She said I’m her dream manifested. I’m her free bird,” Tlaib recalled. “So why would I come back and be caged and bow down when my election rose her head up high, gave her dignity for the first time?”
“And so through tears, at 3:00 in the morning, we all decided as a family that I could not go until I was a free United States congresswoman,” she told reporters.
Tlaib and Omar are known as supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, a campaign that seeks to force Israel through economic pressure and social and cultural ostracism to dismantle its military presence in the West Bank. Supporters say the movement is a nonviolent way of protesting Israel’s 52-year military rule over the Palestinians, but Israel says it aims to delegitimize the state’s existence.
Israel had granted Omar and Tlaib permission to enter in principle last month, but banned them from visiting the country last Thursday under a 2017 law allowing it to expel or deny entry to anyone who backs BDS.
The decision was made less than two hours after Trump tweeted that it would be a “show of weakness” if Israel gave them permission to come, and the reversal was widely seen as the result of pressure from the US president, who has sparred with the lawmakers.
At Monday’s press conference, Tlaib and Omar accused Israel of bowing to Trump and trying to hide the reality of the Palestinian situation.
“I would encourage my colleagues to visit, meet with the people we were going to meet with, see the things we were going to see, hear the stories we were going to hear,” Omar said. “We cannot let Trump and Netanyahu succeed in hiding the cruel reality of the occupation from us.”
Tlaib and Omar are part of the “squad” of four liberal House newcomers — all women of color — whom Trump has labeled as the face of the Democratic Party as he runs for reelection. The Republican president subjected them to a series of racist tweets last month in which he called on them to “go back” to their “broken” countries. They are US citizens — Tlaib was born in the US and Omar became a citizen after moving to the US as a refugee from war-torn Somalia.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.