2020 candidates condemn Trump, Israel over ban on Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib

Democratic U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar, left, and Rashida Tlaib will not be allowed to enter Israel, a decision pushed by President Trump.
Democratic U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, left, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan will not be allowed to enter Israel, a decision endorsed by President Trump.
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

Democratic presidential candidates on Thursday condemned President Trump for urging Israel to bar two Democratic congresswomen from entering the country and called on the nation to reverse its decision.

Israel on Thursday announced the extraordinary move of not allowing Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan to visit.

Trump has been in an ongoing feud with Omar, Tlaib and two other Democratic congresswomen who have been critical of him and his policies. He has said the women of color should “go back” to the countries they came from, even though all are U.S. citizens and three were born in the U.S.


Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish, called on the Israeli government to allow the women to visit.

“Banning Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib from entering Israel and Palestine is a sign of enormous disrespect to these elected leaders, to the United States Congress, and to the principles of democracy,” Sanders tweeted.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren called Israel’s decision “a shameful, unprecedented move.”

“Israel doesn’t advance its case as a tolerant democracy or unwavering US ally by barring elected members of Congress from visiting because of their political views,” Warren tweeted.

On Thursday morning, Trump urged Israel to deny entry to Omar and Tlaib, tweeting that allowing them to visit would show “great weakness” because the women “hate Israel & all Jewish people.”

Omar and Tlaib support a boycott of Israel because of its treatment of Palestinians.

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke said the president was the one showing weakness.

“President Trump, you show great weakness every single day — when you attack women of color, when you degrade the office of the president, and when you ask our allies to stoop to your level,” O’Rourke tweeted.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Omar’s state, said Israel was a “beacon of democracy in the Middle East” that weakens itself by shutting out elected American officials who are critical of the nation. And she described Trump dictating foreign policy by tweet “the worst.” “He is literally exporting intolerance,” she said on CNN.


Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer said Trump’s appeal to Israel was antithetical to American values.

“Mr. Trump’s attempt to isolate, vilify, and stigmatize members of Congress with whom he disagrees strikes at the central notion of our democracy and continues his attempt to separate and divide Americans along racial and religious lines, and further his bigoted and destructive agenda,” Steyer said in a statement.

Former Obama Cabinet member Julián Castro called Israel’s decision “appalling.”

“Make no mistake, the Israeli government just barred two elected members of the U.S. Congress from an official trip just to appease President Trump’s fragile ego,” Castro tweeted.

Fellow Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts alluded to Trump’s comments in the aftermath of the deadly white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017.

“Donald Trump says that two sitting U.S. Congresswomen hate all Jews but he says that literal Nazis can be very fine people. You tell me who’s the disgrace,” Moulton tweeted.

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan came to his colleague’s defense after another Trump tweet attacking the women. “Hate will not make things right,” the candidate said.