Tlaib Declines to Visit Grandmother, Citing Israeli Conditions

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s letter to Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri, requesting permission for the visit.

Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib said Friday she would not visit family in the West Bank, despite being granted an Israeli permit on humanitarian grounds, saying Israel’s “oppressive” conditions aimed to humiliate her.

Israel had barred Tlaib and another Democrat, Rep. Ilhan Omar, from visiting Yerushalayim and the West Bank over their support for the international boycott movement. President Donald Trump had tweeted that Israel should bar them entry.

Tlaib, who was born in the U.S. after her family immigrated from the West Bank, subsequently sent a letter to Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri, which Deri publicized, in which she requested to visit for the purposes of visiting relatives, particularly her elderly grandmother, and promising to “respect any restrictions” and “not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit.”

Deri approved Tlaib’s request, but some Palestinians expressed opposition to the letter. Ali Abunimah, a prominent Palestinian activist, tweeted that Tlaib should have used her platform to highlight Israel’s restrictions “instead of writing that humiliating letter asking the occupier to treat her as an exception in exchange for abiding by its ‘restrictions.'”

Tlaib subsequently announced she would not visit.

“Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother’s heart,” she said in a statement. “Silencing me with treatment to make me feel less-than is not what she wants for me — it would kill a piece of me that always stands up against racism and injustice.”

“When I won (in 2018), it gave the Palestinian people hope that someone will finally speak the truth about the inhumane conditions. I can’t allow the State of Israel to take away that light by humiliating me,” she wrote.

Bassam Tlaib, an uncle who lives in the West Bank, expressed support for her decision.

“If Rashida’s visit to her homeland is under conditions, we reject that,” he said. “It’s Rashida’s right as a Palestinian to come and visit her family and country.”

Deri said after the cancellation that her initial request was apparently a “provocative request, aimed at bashing the State of Israel.”

“Apparently her hate for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother,” he tweeted.

Updated Friday, August 16, 2019 at 2:57 pm .