(JTA) — Democratic presidential front-runners Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have all joined the list of politicians and organizations that have criticized Israel’s decision on Thursday to bar Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country.
“I have always been a stalwart supporter of Israel — a vital partner that shares our democratic values,” Biden, the former vice president, posted on Twitter. “No democracy should deny entry to visitors based on the content of their ideas — even ideas they strongly object to. And no leader of the free world should encourage them to do so.”
I have always been a stalwart supporter of Israel—a vital partner that shares our democratic values. No democracy should deny entry to visitors based on the content of their ideas—even ideas they strongly object to. And no leader of the free world should encourage them to do so.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 15, 2019
Sanders called on Netanyahu to reverse the decision. The Vermont senator tweeted that barring Tlaib and Omar “is a sign of enormous disrespect to these elected leaders, to the United States Congress, and to the principles of democracy.” Warren, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, called banning the congresswomen “a shameful, unprecedented move” and urged the Jewish state to allow Tlaib and Omar to enter.
Last month, Israel’s Washington ambassador, Ron Dermer, told reporters via WhatsApp that “Out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel.”
But amid public pressure from the Trump administration, Israel announced that the two congresswomen would be denied entry. Under Israeli law, supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel can be prevented from entering the country.
Tlaib and Omar, both BDS backers, are outspoken critics of Israel and at times have been criticized for relying on anti-Semitic tropes in their criticism. They were scheduled to visit the Jewish state on Sunday.
“We won’t allow those who deny our right to exist in this world to enter Israel,” Tzipi Hotovely told Israel’s public broadcaster Kan. “In principle this is a very justified decision.”