HIAS Statement on Decision to Block Members of U.S. Congress from Israel

Mark Hetfield, President and CEO of HIAS, the global Jewish organization that assists and protects refugees, issued the following statement in response to Israel’s decision to block Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) from visiting Israel and the West Bank.

“Throughout our existence as the refugee agency of the American Jewish community, HIAS has stood for welcome, freedom, tolerance, dignity and respect.  Today, we are saddened, and even alarmed, by the decision of the government of Israel to deny visas to two duly elected members of the United States Congress, a decision which violates all of these principles for which HIAS stands.  We do not expect such disturbing behavior and opacity from a Jewish and democratic state.  

HIAS objects even more strenuously to the actions of our own government.  President Trump’s tweets about these two congresswomen, and his urging Prime Minister Netanyahu to bar them from Israel, stoke fear, division and hatred in our own country.  His actions put them and others who don’t share his complexion, religion, or views at risk.  

As two democratic countries founded and strengthened by refugees, HIAS expects far better of both Israel and the United States."

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