Amnesty lambasts Israel for allowing authoritarians, banning Tlaib, Omar
Amnesty International on Thursday attacked Israel for allowing visits by world leaders accused of war crimes and simultaneously barring entry to "those who critique it".
The sharply worded statement came on the heels of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's decision to ban US lawmakers Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering Israel and the occupied West Bank on Thursday.
Omar and Tlaib had planned to lead a congressional delegation touring the West Bank, but that trip was halted just a day before their scheduled departure, ostensibly due to the Democrat congresswomen’s support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
"Israel bars entry on the basis of political views to those who critique it. Criticizing Israel's policies isn't violence," said Molly Malekar, Amnesty International Israel's director, in a statement.
Netanyahu's government has allowed "free entry to world leaders accused of gross violations of human rights, war crimes, and crimes against humanity," Malekar said.
Such leaders include Myanmar's military generals and Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte.
Israel has also "proudly embraced" leaders who have been "identified with supporting neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic groups", such as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, she added.
Despite those visits, the Israeli government "automatically calls anti-Semitic anyone who dares to criticise it".
Philippe Nassif, the advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International USA, also slammed the decision to bar Omar and Tlaib entry to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
"Donald Trump continues a pattern of divisive rhetoric that inflicts great harm on those standing up for their basic rights," Nassif said in a statement, referring to Trump's attacks on the Muslim-American congresswomen.
Earlier on Thursday, the president had demanded Israel deny them entry, accusing the pair of anti-Semitism in a controversial tweet.
"Opposition to a government’s policies or abhorrence to grave human rights abuses is neither anti-semitism nor a hatred towards a country or its people. We expect all people who support human rights to stand up and speak out against abuses, wherever they occur," Nassif said.
Amnesty joined a host of Democrat lawmakers, a small number of Republican politicians, and the prominent pro-Israel lobby AIPAC in slamming the action.