Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained that a factor in his Aug. 15 decision to bar Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) from entering Israel was one of their sponsors being a supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
Netanyahu’s office sent out a series of tweets explaining the prime minister’s decision, including one that stated, “The organization that is funding their trip is MIFTAH [Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy], which is an avid supporter of BDS, and among whose members are those who have expressed support for terrorism against Israel.”
In addition, the organization that is funding their trip is Miftah, which is an avid supporter of BDS, and among whose members are those who have expressed support for terrorism against Israel.
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) August 15, 2019
MIFTAH issued a statement on their website that read, “As a sponsor of this trip, MIFTAH worked hard to organize a well-rounded visit for Congresswomen Tlaib, Omar, and Palskett, in order to facilitate their engagement with Palestinian civil society and to provide them with an opportunity to see the reality of occupation for themselves.” They added that “like all prolific human rights abusers, Israel wants to impose a blackout on the reality in occupied Palestine.”
Attorney and author Ari Hoffman wrote in an Aug. 15 op-ed in the Forward that “Miftah regularly decries ‘Judaization’ and accuses Israel of ‘summary executions’” and their Arabic version promulgated the “blood libel” that “the Jews used the blood of Christians in the Jewish Passover.” Hoffman also noted that the founder of Miftah, Hanan Ashrawi, said in 2001 that Israel is committing “ethnic cleansing” against the Palestinians and “state terrorism.”
Ashrawi currently serves as the chair of MIFTAH and is a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee; in a 2017 interview with Deutsche Welle, she said that Palestinian terror attacks “are seen by the people as resistance” and that “to somehow adopt the language of either the international community or the occupier by describing anybody who resists as terrorist” is “unfair.” When Deutsche Well pressed her further Palestinian officials inciting violence against Israelis, Ashrawi denied that the Palestinian leadership calls for violence and said that the Israeli leadership needs to be held accountable for their rhetoric.
Additionally, MIFTAH sponsored a 2016 trip to the West Bank consisting of five members of Congress meeting Shawn Jabarin, who heads the pro-BDS NGO Al-Haq and has been repeatedly flagged by Israel for having alleged ties to the Popular Front Liberation of Palestine terror group, according to the Foundation for Defense Democracies think-tank. In 2016, MIFTAH “sponsored a women’s unity conference, at which women representing Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah discussed how to implement the slogan, ‘One Country, One People, One Flag’” and has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Arab League-affiliated Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, according to Jewish News Syndicate.
MIFTAH, Omar’s office and Tlaib’s office did not respond to the Journal’s requests for comment.