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Feminist figurehead Steinem blasts Israeli PM over US congresswomen travel ban

World News | Published:

Israel denied entry to Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar last week over their support for the Palestinian-led boycott movement.

Gloria Steinem

Feminist figurehead Gloria Steinem has called Israel’s prime minister a “bully” and says she will not visit the country as long as he remains leader.

In a statement posted online, she said Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to bar a visit by two Democratic congresswomen was “a welcome sign that I never have to enter any country or place under your authority”.

At the urging of President Donald Trump, Israel denied entry to Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar last week over their support for the Palestinian-led boycott movement.

Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib
Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib (J Scott Applewhite/AP)

The two are outspoken critics of Mr Trump and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. They were subjected to a series of racist tweets from Mr Trump last month, in which he told them to “go back” to their “broken” countries. Both are US citizens.

“I know that Donald Trump, the accidental occupant of the White House, is drawn to successful bullies,” Ms Steinem wrote, addressing Mr Netanyahu.

“If you and Trump continue to imitate each other, you will eventually be alone together at the table. I could wish both of you no greater punishment than that.”

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Israel later granted permission for Ms Tlaib to visit her grandmother in the occupied West Bank on humanitarian grounds, and released a letter purportedly signed by her in which she promised not to advocate boycotts during her visit.

She then declined to travel, saying Israel’s “oppressive” conditions were designed to humiliate her. Israel accused her of staging a provocation.

She tweeted that she could not allow Israel to “use my love for my sity (grandmother) to bow down to their oppressive & racist policies”.

Online supporters have rallied under the hashtag #MyPalestinianSitty, posting pictures of their grandmothers and descriptions of their struggles under Israeli occupation.

Many were said to have lived through what the Palestinians refer to as the Nakba (Catastrophe), when hundreds of thousands fled or were forced from their homes in what is now Israel during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

“#MyPalestinianSitty is trending and I am overcome with emotions realizing how we are finally humanizing one of the world’s most dehumanized peoples,” Ms Omar tweeted.

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