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UPDATE: Tlaib will no longer travel to West Bank, citing "oppressive conditions" set by Israel

Rep.Rashida Tlaib speaking in front of a group of people
Malak Silmi
Michigan Radio

Updated 9:28 a.m., August 16, 2019:

In a statement, Michigan Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) announced she would no longer be traveling to Palestine and Israel. 

She wrote:

I have therefore decided to not travel to Palestine and Israel at this time. Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother's heart. 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 the election to become a United States Congresswoman, many Palestinians, especially my grandmother, felt a sense of hope, a hope that they would finally have a voice. I cannot allow the Israeli government to take that away from them or to use my deep desire to see my grandmother, potentially for the last time, as a political bargaining chip. My family and I have cried together throughout this ordeal; they’ve promised to keep my grandmother alive until I can one day reunite with her. It is with their strength and heart that I reiterate I am a duly elected United States Congresswoman and I will not allow the Israeli government to humiliate me and my family or take away our right to speak out. I will not allow the Israeli government to take away our hope.

Updated: 6:29 a.m. August 16, 2019:

Israel will allow Michigan Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) to visit family in the West Bank. The country is allowing her a limited visit this weekend on humanitarian grounds. That's after the country denied her and Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar entry as part of a Congressional delegation.

Updated: 11:01 p.m. August 15, 2019:

Tlaib says Israel is considered a democratic country, but "it's very obvious that they're trying to limit what I do when I get there."

Tlaib was born in Detroit to Palestinian immigrant parents.  

Tlaib is an outspoken critic of Israel's treatment of Palestinians, as well as an outspoken critic of President Trump.

Tlaib says the visit was to be personal, as well.  Her grandmother lives in the West Bank.

"My grandmother's in her 90s. Her granddaughter's a United States Congresswoman. She should be able to see me, to touch me, to hug me. And so I'm going to continue to fight back," said Tlaib Thursday night, after a town hall meeting on electric vehicles and climate change in Canton, Michigan.

Tlaib says she had planned on meeting with Israelis as well as Palestinians during her visit, and her aim is simply peace in the region.  She says unlike her, President Trump is pursuing a "hate agenda."

Original Post: 5:29 p.m. August 15, 2019

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan blasted a decision by the Israeli government to bar her and another Muslim member of Congress from an official visit to the West Bank.

Tlaib and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) were both forbidden to join an official congressional delegation visiting the West Bank. Both are Democrats, both have been highly critical of Israeli policies, and both have drawn the ire of President Donald Trump.

Trump publicly encouraged Israel President Benjamin Netanyahu to withdraw permission for the official trip, which he did. Part of the reasons cited is their support for a boycott as part of a campaign to sanction Israel.

Tlaib took to Twitter to respond. She said in a post that barring the pair is “a sign of weakness b/c the truth of what is happening to Palestinians is frightening.” Tlaib’s district in southeast Michigan has a large Middle Eastern population.

Tlaib did receive support from a Jewish organization based in metro Detroit. A statement from the Jewish Community Relations Council said Tlaib should be allowed to make an official visit:

“Jewish Community Relations Council/American Jewish Committee expresses disappointment at the decision of the Israeli government to bar Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar from visiting Israel. Congresswomen and Omar’s support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement is counterproductive to a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, we believe that Israel, as a strong ally of the United States, should have chosen to allow entry to these elected officials.”

Correction: The original post from Aug. 15 said Tlaib had been granted permission to visit family. Israel had not yet made that announcement at that time. 

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
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