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Date: 2024-05-19 Page is: DBtxt003.php txt00017184

US Politics
Israel and Palestine / Jews and Palestinians

Representatives Omar and Tlaib on Israel Travel Ban ... Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) hold a news conference on their travel restrictions to Palestine and Israel.

Burgess COMMENTARY

Peter Burgess
Representatives Omar and Tlaib on Israel Travel Ban Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) hold a news conference on their travel restrictions to Palestine and Israel. https://www.c-span.org/video/?463543-1/representatives-omar-tlaib-hold-news-conference-travel-restrictions

00:00:49 TODAY WE ARE HERE TO HIGHLIGHT A HUMAN COST OF THE OCCUPATION ON PALESTINIANS AND MANY OTHERS. AS MANY OF YOU KNOW, I HAD PLANNED TO TRAVEL TO ISRAEL AND PALESTINE TO HEAR FROM INDIVIDUALS ON THE GROUND ABOUT THE CONFLICT SAW IT COULD BE MORE INFORMED AS A MEMBER OF CONGRESS AND AS A MEMBER OF THE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE. CONTRARY TO MANY MEDIA REPORTS AND THE STATEMENTS OF THE ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER, I PLAN TO MEET DIRECTLY WITH MEMBERS OF THE KNESSET AND MEMBERS OF PALESTINIAN CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS, FORMER SOLDIERS, IS, PALESTINE AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND UNITED NATIONS OFFICIALS. LEADING UP TO THE TRIP, I MET WITH CONSTITUENTS HOLDING A WIDE RANGE OF VIEWS ON THE CONFLICTS. ALL THE ACTIVITIES ON MY TRIP HAD BEEN DONE BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS IN THE PAST. INCLUDING A NEARLY IDENTICAL TRIP A FEW YEARS AGO LED BY THE SAME PALESTINIAN ORGANIZATION LEADING THIS TRIP. IN ADDITION TO ME AND RASHIDA GOING ON THE TRIP, WE WERE GOING TO BE JOINED BY STACY PLASKETT FROM THE VIRGIN ISLANDS. THE DECISION TO BAN ME AND MY COLLEAGUES, THE FIRST TWO MUSLIM AMERICAN WOMEN ELECTED TO CONGRESS IS NOTHING LESS THAN AN ATTEMPT BY AN ALLY OF THE UNITED STATES TO SUPPRESS OUR ABILITY TO DO OUR JOBS AS ELECTED OFFICIALS. BUT THIS IS NOT JUST ABOUT ME, NETANYAHU'S DECISION TO DENY US ENTRY MIGHT BE UNPRECEDENTED FOR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, BUT IT IS THE POLICY OF HIS GOVERNMENT WHEN IT COMES TO PALESTINIANS. THIS IS THE POLICY OF HIS GOVERNMENT WHEN IT COMES TO ANYONE WHO HOLDS VIEWS AGAINST THE HOLDS VIEWS ABOUT FROM THE OCCUPATION. A POLICY THAT HAS BEEN EDGED ON AND SUPPORTED BY TRUMP'S ADMINISTRATION. THAT'S BECAUSE OF THE ONLY WAY TO PRESERVE UNJUST POLICY IS TO SUPPRESS PEOPLE'S FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION, AND FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT. MY COLLEAGUES AND I ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES WHO ARE BEING DENIED THE RIGHT TO SEE FOR OURSELVES THE REALITY ON THE GROUND IN THE WEST BANK. THE NETANYAHU GOVERNMENT IS CURRENTLY TRYING TO DEPORT OMAR SHAKIR, A HUMAN RIGHTS WORKER WITH HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, BECAUSE HE HAS REPORTED ON HUMAN RIGHTS CONDITIONS IN THE WEST BANK AND GAZA. LAST YEAR THE NETANYAHU GOVERNMENT REFUSED ENTRY TO AMERICAN CITIZENS CATHERINE FRANK, AND MY FRIEND, VINCE WARREN, WHO HAD ARRIVED ON A HUMAN RIGHTS MISSION. ALL OF THESE ACTIONS DO NOTHING TO BRING US CLOSER TO PEACE. IN FACT THEY DO THE OPPOSITE. THEY MAINTAIN THE OCCUPATION AND PREVENT A SOLUTION TO THE COMPLEX. FORTUNATELY, WE THE UNITED STATES HAVE A CONSTRUCTIVE ROLE TO PLAY. WE GIVE ISRAEL MORE THAN $3 MILLION IN AID EVERY YEAR. THIS IS PREDICATED ON THEIR BEING AN IMPORTANT ALLY IN THE REGION AND THE ONLY DEMOCRACY IN THE MIDDLE EAST. BUT DENYING VISIT TO DULY ELECTED MEMBERS OF CONGRESS IS NOT CONSISTENT WITH BEING AN ALLY, AND DENYING MILLIONS OF PEOPLE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT OR EXPRESSION OR SELF-DETERMINATION IS NOT CONSISTENT WITH BEING A DEMOCRACY. WE MUST BE ASKING, AS ISRAEL'S ALLY, THE NETANYAHU GOVERNMENT STOP THE EXPANSION OF SETTLEMENTS ON PALESTINIAN LAND, AND ENSURE FULL RIGHTS FOR PALESTINIANS IF WE ARE TO GIVE THEM AID. THESE ARE NOT JUST MY VIEWS. THESE ARE THE VIEWS HELD BY THE RANGE OF EXPERTS, PEACE ADVOCATES ON THIS ISSUE. WE KNOW DONALD TRUMP WOULD LOVE NOTHING MORE THAN TO USE THIS ISSUE TO PIT MUSLIMS AND JEWISH AMERICANS AGAINST EACH OTHER. THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY AND THE JEWISH COMMUNITY ARE BEING OTHERED AND MADE INTO THE BOGEYMAN BY THIS ADMINISTRATION. BUT AS WE WILL HEAR TODAY, PEOPLE OF ALL DIFFERENT FAITHS ARE COMING TOGETHER TO SPEAK UP AGAINST THE STATUS QUO IN THE REGION. I'M GRATEFUL FOR THE SOLIDARITY SHOWN BY SO MANY OF MY COLLEAGUES IN CONGRESS. I UNDERSTAND AND APPRECIATE THE CALLS FOR MEMBERS TO AVOID TRAVELING TO ISRAEL UNTIL RASHIDA AND I ARE ALLOWED TO GO WITHOUT CONDITION. BUT IT IS MY BELIEF THAT AS LEGISLATORS, WE HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO SEE THE REALITY THERE FOR OURSELVES. WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO CONDUCT OVERSIGHT OVER OUR GOVERNMENT'S FOREIGN POLICY AND WHAT HAPPENS WITH THE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS WE SEND IN AID. SO I WOULD ENCOURAGE MY COLLEAGUES TO VISIT. MEET WITH THE PEOPLE WE WERE GOING TO MEET WITH. SEE THE THINGS WE WERE GOING TO CCSSEE. HEAR THE STORIES WE WERE GOING TO HEAR. WE CANNOT LET TRUMP AND NETANYAHU SUCCEED IN HIDING THE COLD REALITY OF THE OCCUPATION -- HIDING THE FULL REALITY OF THE OCCUPATION FROM US. SO I CALL ON ALL OF YOU TO GO. THE OCCUPATION IS REAL. BARRING MEMBERS OF CONGRESS FROM SEEING IT DOES NOT MAKE IT GO AWAY. WE MUST END IT TOGETHER. NOW, IT IS WITH HONOR THAT I INTRODUCE MY SISTER, RASHIDA TLAIB, WHO HAS BEEN SO BRAVE AND RESILIENT, AND SOMEONE WHO HAS DEEP CONNECTIONS TO THE REGION, AND SOMEONE WHO I WOULD HAVE LOVED TO HAVE MET HER CITY. RASHIDA TLAIB.

THANK YOU SO MUCH TO MY DEAR FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE CONGRESSWOMAN ILHAN OMAR FOR INVITING ME TO HER DISTRICT TODAY. I AM THANKFUL FOR HER LEADERSHIP AND STRENGTH THROUGH ALL SHE HAS BEEN DEALING WITH AS A WOMAN OF COLOR IN CONGRESS. I DON'T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT. BUT THE OUTPOURING OF SUPPORT WE HAVE RECEIVED FROM OUR CONSTITUENTS AND SUPPORTERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY SHOWS US HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO KEEP FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE. TODAY, REPS OMAR, PLASKETT, AND I WERE SUPPOSED TO BE ON A CONGRESSIONAL TRIP IN DELEGATION TO PALESTINE AND ISRAEL. SUCH DELEGATIONS ARE COMMON OCCURRENCE FOR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS. EARLIER THIS MONTH, IN FACT, 71 MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TRAVELED TO ISRAEL, SEEMINGLY WITHOUT INCIDENT. WHAT IS NOT A COMMON OCCURRENCE IS MEMBERS OF CONGRESS BEING BARRED FROM ENTERING A COUNTRY ON FACT-FINDING MISSIONS UNLESS THEY AGREE TO STRICT RULES CURTAILING THEIR RIGHTS OR BEING REQUIRED TO SUBMIT THEIR ITINERARIES FOR STOP-BY -STOP FOR PREAPPROVAL. HISTORY DOES HAVE A HABIT OF REPEATING ITSELF. I LEARNED THIS WEEK THAT A FORMER MEMBER OF CONGRESS, CONGRESSMAN CHARLES C. DIGGS JR. WAS DENIED ENTRY INTO APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA IN 1972. HE WAS ALSO THE REPRESENTATIVE FOR THE 13TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT IN MICHIGAN. I WAS BORN AND RAISED IN THE BEAUTIFUL DETROIT, WHERE MANY OF MY AFRICAN-AMERICAN TEACHERS TAUGHT ME ABOUT THE REALITIES OF OPPRESSION AND INJUSTICE, AND THE NEED TO SPEAK UP AND TAKE ACTION. GROWING UP IN A CITY THAT HAS BEEN AT THE CENTER OF MANY SOCIAL JUSTICE MOVEMENTS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, LABOR RIGHTS, AND EQUALITY, AND ABSORBING THOSE LESSONS, HAS SHAPED TO I AM TODAY AND TRANSMIT TO PUSH FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE FOR THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE. AS A YOUNG GIRL, VISITING PALESTINE TO SEE MY GRANDPARENTS AND EXTENDED FAMILY, I WATCHED AS MY MOTHER HAD TO GO THROUGH DEHUMANIZING CHECKPOINTS -- [VOICE BREAKING] -- EVEN THOUGH SHE WAS A UNITED STATES CITIZEN AND PROUD AMERICAN. I WAS THERE WHEN THERE WAS A TERRIBLE CAR ACCIDENT AND MY COUSINS AND I CRIED SO SHE COULD HAVE ACCESS TO THE BEST HOSPITALS WHICH WERE IN JERUSALEM. I REMEMBER SHAKING WITH FEAR WHEN CHECKPOINTS APPEARED IN A THE SMALL VILLAGE, TANKS AND GUNS EVERYWHERE. I REMEMBER VISITING EAST JERUSALEM WITH MY THEN-HUSBAND AND HIM ESCORTED OFF THE BUS , ALTHOUGH HE WAS A UNITED STATES IT IS CITIZEN, JUST SO SECURITY FORCES COULD HARASS HIM. ALL I CAN DO AS THE GRANDDAUGHTER OF A WOMAN WHO LIVED IN OCCUPIED TERRITORY IS TO ELEVATE HER VOICE BY EXPOSING THE TRUTH THE ONLY WAY I KNOW HOW. AS MY DETROIT PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS TAUGHT ME, BY HUMANIZING THE PAIN OF OPPRESSION. OUR DELEGATION TRIP INCLUDED MEETINGS WITH ISRAELI VETERANS WHO WERE FORCED TO PARTICIPATE IN MILITARY OCCUPATION. THEY ALSO DESPERATELY WANT PEACE AND SELF-DETERMINATION FOR THEIR PALESTINIAN NEIGHBORS. THEY COULD HAVE SHED LIGHT INTO THE INJUSTICES OF RAIDS, SHOOTINGS, AND CHILD DETENTIONS. THE DELEGATION WOULD HAVE SEEN FIRSTHAND WHY WALLS ARE DESTRUCTIVE, NOT PROTECTIVE. THEY COULD HAVE ASKED THE PEOPLE IN BETHLEHEM HOW WALLS CUT PEOPLE OFF FROM ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES, FROM A WAY TO LIVE, AND DO PSYCHOLOGICAL DAMAGE THAT LASTS FOREVER. ALL I CAN DO IS HELP HUMANIZE HER AS HER GRANDDAUGHTER, AND THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE'S PLIGHT. I KNOW THAT WHEN WE CAN FINALLY SEE THEM AS DESERVING OF HUMAN DIGNITY, EVERYONE THERE WILL BE ABLE TO LIVE IN PEACE. IT IS UNFORTUNATE THAT PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU HAS TAKEN A PAGE OUT OF TRUMP'S BOOK. AND EVEN DIRECTION FROM TRUMP, TO DENY US THIS OPPORTUNITY. AND YES, OIL FOLKS ARE SHOCKED THAT THIS HAPPENED TO US, TODAY WE WILL HEAR FROM FOLKS WHO HELPED SHOW THE REALITY FOR MANY WHO HAVE BEEN BARRED FROM GOING INTO ISRAEL, NOT EVEN ABLE TO REACH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE. THEY ARE FELLOW AMERICANS WHO CANNOT VISIT THEIR FAMILIES OR THEIR LOVED ONES. ALL OF US SHOULD BE DEEPLY DISTURBED. ALL OF US AMERICANS SHOULD BE DEEPLY DISTURBED. WITH THAT I THANK YOU SO MUCH, COLLEAGUE CONGRESSWOMAN ILHAN OMAR FOR HELPING HUMANIZE THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE.

THANK YOU, ILHAN. HELLO. THANK YOU TO REPRESENTATIVES ILHAN OMAR AND RASHIDA TLAIB FOR INVITING ME TO SPEAK TODAY. I WAS ASKED TO SHARE SOME OF MY PERSONAL STORY. I AM LANA BARKAWI, THE DAUGHTER OF PALESTINIAN IMMIGRANTS TO THIS COUNTRY. I LIVE IN MINNEAPOLIS WITH MY HUSBAND AND CHILDREN. ALTHOUGH I AM PALESTINIAN, I HAVE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO VISIT PALESTINE. MY STORY IS LIKE THAT OF SO MANY PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN THE DIASPORA. PALESTINE IS A HOME I HAVE NEVER SEEN AND ONE THAT I LONG TO SEE. ABOUT 25 YEARS AGO I WAS A COLLEGE STUDENT VISITING FAMILY IN JORDAN WITH MY MOTHER, FATHER, AND SISTERS. WE WERE CONSIDERING TAKING A SIDE TRIP TO VISIT THE OCCUPIED WEST BANK, A VISIT THAT WOULD INCLUDE SEEING FOR THE FIRST TIME, MY FATHER'S FAMILY VILLAGE , IN THE SMALL TOWN NEAR THE CITY OF -- THE NAME OF THE CITY IS THE NAME AT THE START OF MY LAST NAME, 'BARKA.' WE ARE THE PEOPLE. INCIDENTALLY, THIS IS SUCH A COMMON PALESTINIAN THING, THAT NO MATTER HOW LONG YOUR FAMILY HAS BEEN LIVING IN EXILE, YOUR IDENTITY IS STRONG. OTHER PALESTINIANS WANT TO KNOW, WHAT TOWN IS YOUR FAMILY FROM, ARE YOU ABLE TO VISIT, IF YOU CAN GO, YOU SHOULD. THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE. IMPLICIT IN THESE QUESTIONS IS A LONGING FOR OUR PEOPLE TO KNOW OUR HOMELAND AND A HOPE THAT WE CAN SOMEDAY RETURN. BACK TO THAT SUMMER 25 YEARS AGO. ULTIMATELY, WE DID NOT ATTEMPT TO VISIT PALESTINE. AS A MENTIONED, WE WERE IN A AMMAN, JORDAN, AND WE WOULD HAVE TRIED TO CROSS INTO THE WEST BANK AT A BRIDGE CROSSING THAT SPANS THE JORDAN RIVER. UNDER ISRAEL'S LAWS, THE DECISION TO ALLOW OR DENY OUR ENTRY WOULD HAVE BEEN MADE BY A HEAVILY ARMED ISRAELI SOLDIER. WE WOULD HAVE BEEN AT THEIR MERCY, MAKING OURSELVES VULNERABLE TO THE OCCUPYING STATE OF ISRAEL. ULTIMATELY, WE DID NOT ATTEMPT TO VISIT, AND I HAVE TO SAY, I WAS QUITE DISAPPOINTED. I WAS A COLLEGE STUDENT RECKONING WITH MY IDENTITY, TRYING TO RECONCILE EVERYTHING I KNEW ABOUT MY LOVING FAMILY AND OUR CLOSE-KNIT COMMUNITY OF PALESTINIAN AND OTHER ARAB FRIENDS IN THE UNITED STATES. BALANCE ALL OF THAT AGAINST THE MENACING IMAGE OF PALESTINIANS ON THE NEWS AND IN HOLLYWOOD. I BADLY WANTED TO VISIT PALESTINE AND TO SEE IT FOR MYSELF. IT WAS MY PARENTS' DECISION NOT TO ATTEMPT THE VISIT, NOT TO ATTEMPT TO ENTER ISRAEL. MY FATHER TALKED ABOUT OUR SAFETY. HE DID NOT WANT TO PUT ME AND MY TWO SISTERS IN HARMS WAY. WE KNEW THE STORIES ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO PALESTINIANS WHEN THEY ATTEMPT TO ENTER ISRAEL, THE INDIGNITIES AND THE FEAR THAT ISRAELI SOLDIERS HAVE THE POWER TO PUT THEM THROUGH. SINCE THAT SUMMER, I HAVE COME TO UNDERSTAND THE DECISION OF MY PARENTS IN A DEEPER WAY. LET ME ON THE TRUTH OF THEIR CONCERN FOR OUR SAFETY, THERE WAS A MORE FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH. MY FATHER COULD NOT BRING HIMSELF TO BE IN A POSITION WHERE AN ISRAELI SOLDIER COULD CONTROL HIS ENTRY INTO HIS HOMELAND. THERE IS ENDURING TRAUMA THAT HE AND MY MOTHER LIVED. THEY LIVE IN EXILE FROM PALESTINE, FROM BARKA, AND FROM MY MOTHER'S FAMILY'S ANCESTRAL HOME. TO HAVE THE DECISION OF OUR ENTRY IN THE HANDS OF AN ISRAELI SOLDIER WAS TOO GREAT A PSYCHIC ANGUISH TO BEAR. THIS PALES IN COMPARISON TO THE BRUTALIZED OCCUPATION THAT MANY FACE ON A DAILY BASIS. REPRESENTATIVE OMAR IS MY CONGRESSWOMAN, AND I AM INDEBTED TO HER FOR HAVING THE COURAGE TO BRING THE CRUEL AND RACIST OCCUPATION OF PALESTINE BY ISRAEL INTO THE NATIONAL CONVERSATION. THE DISPLACEMENT OF PALESTINIANS IS A HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE. IT IS AN ISSUE OF JUSTICE. AS U.S. CITIZENS, THE REPRESENTATIVES SHOULD BE FREE TO VISIT ISRAEL, A COUNTRY THAT CALLS ITSELF A DEMOCRACY, TO LEARN FOR THEMSELVES HOW THE UNITED STATES ANNUAL MILITARY AND FINANCIAL AID OF $3 BILLION IS SPENT. THEY SHOULD BE FREE TO DEFEND U.S. CITIZEN'S RIGHTS TO RESIST ISRAELI POLICIES BY PARTICIPATING IN PEACEFUL BOYCOTT AND SANCTIONS MOMENTS INSPIRED BY THE EFFECTIVE CAMPAIGN THAT DISMANTLED THE APARTHEID SYSTEM IN SOUTH AFRICA A FEW DECADES AGO. REPRESENTATIVE TLAIB SHOULD BE FREE TO VISIT HER ELDERLY GRANDMOTHER. FOR ISRAEL TO DENY A FAMILY VISIT OR TO MAKE IT CONDITIONAL IS TRULY INHUMANE. TRAVELING, LEARNING, VISITING FAMILY, THESE ARE FREEDOMS WE THINK WE HAVE AS CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES, FREEDOMS THAT SHOULD BE UPHELD BY OUR DEMOCRACY AND BY THAT OF ISRAEL, IF IT WERE THE TRUE DEMOCRACY IT CLAIMS TO BE. IN MY DAY-TO-DAY LIFE, I HAVE THE PRIVILEGE TO WORK WITH ARAB AND OTHER SOUTHWEST ASIAN AND NORTH AFRICAN ARTISTS, POETS AND FILMMAKERS, MAKING SPACE FOR THEIR NECESSARY WORK IN A CULTURE THAT IS PREOCCUPIED WITH MARGINALIZING AND SENTENCING OUR COMMUNITY. I WOULD LIKE TO READ A POEM BY A PALESTINIAN-AMERICAN POET. UPON ARRIVAL. YOU WILL NEED TO STATE THE REASON FOR YOUR VISIT. DON'T SAY, 'BECAUSE I WANT TO WALK DOWN OLD ROADS, AND CARESS STONEWALLS THE COLOR OF MY SKIN. .' YOU WILL NEED TO STATE THE REASON FOR YOUR VISIT. DON'T SAY, 'BECAUSE OUR LIVES ARE READY FOR HARVEST, AND I WILL PRESS IT INTO LIQUID GOLD.' YOU WILL NEED TO STATE THE REASON FOR YOUR VISIT. DON'T SAY, 'BECAUSE MY PARENT'S HOUSE STILL SITS EMPTY ON A BLUFF OVERLOOKING THE SEA, THE GREEN SHUTTERS REMAIN SEALED SHUT AND THE ARMY LISTED THE PROPERTY OWNERS AS ABSENTEES.' YOU WILL NEED TO STATE THE REASON FOR YOUR VISIT. DON'T SAY, 'BECAUSE I AM CARRYING PRAYERS IN MY SUITCASE FOR PEOPLE WHO WAIT, AND I WILL UNFOLD THEM AND SPREAD THEM OUT ACROSS THE LAND.' THANK YOU.
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