tv Reps. Omar Tlaib News Conference CSPAN August 19, 2019 4:17pm-4:49pm EDT
captive city. >> as we said, if you have questions about what is going on in hong kong, now is a great time to call in. mike in north carolina is next. good morning. >> good morning. how are you? great stuff. , thehave understood it tipping point was this piece of legislation that was in whatever congress or legislative house in hong kong that was going to --ow mainland china >> thank you, everyone, for being here. sorry for being late. i'm so glad to be here with my
sister rashida today. we are here to highlight -- before i actually start, we were supposed to have other speakers. are they in the room? how are you? thank you for coming. rep. omar: wonderful. today we are here to highlight the human cost of occupation and travel restrictions. i had planned to travel to israel and palestine to hear from individuals on the ground about the conflict so that i could be more informed as a member of congress and as a member on the foreign affairs committee. contrary to many media reports
and statements of the israeli prime minister, i planned to oft directly with members israeli security along with palestinian civil society groups, former soldiers, israel, 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 conflict. 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 very 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
two muslim the first 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 israeli occupation, a policy that has been supported by trump's administration. that is because 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 friend who had arrived on a human rights mission. all of these actions have nothing -- 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 there 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. israel'se asking, as 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 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 see. hear the stories we were going to hear. andannot let trump hidinghu succeed in the 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 in the city. rashida tlaib. rep. 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 across the country shows how important it is to keep fighting for justice. omar, plaskett, and i were supposed to be on a congressional trip to palestine and israel. such delegations are common occurrence for members of congress. earlier this month, 71 members of congress traveled to israel.
what is not 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 itinerary for preapproval. history does have a habit of repeating itself. i learned this week that a former member of congress, charles diggs junior, 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 beautiful detroit. for many of my african-american teachers taught me about the realities of oppression and justice. growing up in a city that has been at the center of many social justice movements for civil rights, labor rights, and equality has shaped who i am
today and drives me to push for peace and justice. as a young girl, visiting palestine to see my grandparents, i watched as my mother had to go through -- evenzing checkpoints though she was a united states citizen and proud american. 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 small village, tanks and guns everywhere. i remember visiting east jerusalem with my husband and him escorted off the bus although he was a united states citizen so security forces could harass him. as thean do
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 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. they could have shed light into injustices and child detention. the delegation would have seen firsthand why walls are destructive. 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 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 yes, while 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 to israel, not even to reach the palestinian people. they are fellow americans who cannot visit their families or loved ones. all of us should be deeply disturbed. you, myt i think colleague conga congresswoman -- my colleague, congresswoman ilhan omar. rep. omar: thank you, rashida.
from lanna,l hear palestinian-american and minnesota resident, who has never been able to return to her families homeland of palestine. ilhan.k you, hello. thank you to representatives ilhan omar and rashida tlaib for inviting me to speak today. i was asked to share some of my personalryi am the daughter of n immigrants to this country. i live in minneapolis with my husband and children. although i am palestinian, i've 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. we were considering taking a trip to visit the occupied west bank. a visit that would include seeing my father's family .illage, a small town it is the word at the heart of my last name. 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. know,palestinians want to what town is your family from, are you able to visit -- implicit in these questions is a longing for our people to know our homeland and a hope that we can someday return. attempt towe did not
visit palestine. we were in jordan and we would have tried to cross into the west bank at a bridge crossing that spans the jordan river. laws, theel's 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. ultimately we did not attempt to visit and i was quite disappointed at the time. i was a college student, 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. with thell of that menacing image of palestinians on the news and in hollywood. i wanted to visit palestine and see it for myself.
decision notents' to attempt to visit. my father talked about our safety. we knew the stories about what happens to palestinians when they attempt to enter israel, the indignities and the fear that israeli soldiers have the power to put them through. i have come to understand the decision of my parents in a deeper way. beyond 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 is the person in control of his entry to his homeland. there is enduring trauma that he and my mother lived. they live in exile from palestine 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 how the united states aid is spent. they should be free to defend u.s. citizens' rights to resist israeli policies by participating in peaceful boycott and sanctions movements inspired by the campaign that dismantled the apartheid system in south africa.
tlaib should be free to visit her grandmother. for israel to deny a visit or make it conditional is truly inhumane. family,g, visiting these are freedoms we think we have as citizens of the united states, freedoms that should be held up. life, i haveday the privilege to work with arab and other artists and filmmakers, making space for their work in a culture that is preoccupied with marginalizing 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 parents' house still sits empty on a bluff overlooking the sea. the green shutters remain sealed the and the army listed property owners as absentee. you will need to state the reason for your visit. carrying, because i am prayers in my suitcase and i will unfold them and spread them out across the land. thank you. rep. omar: thank you. poems just book of recently in seattle. we were both visiting and i
remember reading on the plane ride back home and crying and everyone sort of staring at me like a crazy person. next we will hear from amber harris, a minnesota resident who is married to a palestinian, and was denied entry herself. she will talk about the impact of travel restrictions. >> hello. thank you for having me and letting me tell my story. my name is amber harris. i am a jewish u.s. citizen and i'm married to a palestinian from the west bank. start where the real struggle began. after my husband and i got engaged, we were forced to go back to palestine because he had a visa that ended. everything was fine on my first
time, because i was a jewish-american. months stay in the west bank, my husband and i got legally married and the authorities informed me that we had to leave and come back. so we got married and left for our honeymoon and upon return i was interrogated for hours by the israeli security agency. my marriage documents were almost thrown away. i was humiliated. interrogation, they facebook,witter, my they yelled at me for being a human rights activist, environmentalist, but i was not told why i was being held. after dismissal, i was told i was a threat to the state of israel and forced to sign documents in hebrew saying i was banned for 10 years.
because my husband was not allowed to come with me back to the u.s., he couldn't get a visa, i was forced to say goodbye at the border and go back to the u.s. not knowing when i would see him again. because i am privileged, i have access, and we were able to get a jewish israeli lawyer. it took months to get a solution to this. they came back and said that i can attempt to come back, but they want want to interrogate me, search all my belongings, open my social media, and ask for a security deposit averaging $10,000 to $22,000. which they would give back if i left. we were forced to borrow money from my family, which is a privilege itself, and i returned again and was held for six
hours, and eventually spoke again to an officer. he taunted me, trying to ask me why i was banned, and i didn't know because my lawyer was never told. that itually said it was participated in violent riots and protests. i was confused and he told me that i would be allowed into the west bank this time, but i'm under surveillance. i was not allowed into israel proper, only the west bank. the only conclusion i can come up with is that they were punishing me for my activities in the protests of ferguson, missouri. i was punished for the freedom of speech in my own country. since then i have faced hurdles and restrictions in entering the
west bank and getting my visa. my story is not unique. ,epresentatives omar and tlaib our story and so many are not unique. mine ends on a positive note because of my privilege as a jewish white american, but these restrictions touch everyone. i know hundreds of stories of other women who may never be allowed to return solely for the identities they hold. israel is denying u.s. citizens for the race, religion, and political activity in the u.s. the time is now for us to stand up as americans for our fellow citizens being denied basic human rights based on freedoms that exist within our country. andnt to thank reps omar tlaib for speaking out and being
strong, because it is people like them that make sure my son will have a home to return to. thank you for letting me tell this story. rep. omar: thank you, amber. now, let me introduce the executive director of the jewish community action. >> thank you. my name is karen ross, executive director of jewish community action. we organize statewide in minnesota. areews around the country organizing alongside other communities for immigrant rights , criminal justice reform, access to health care, and affordable housing, we recognize that our identities have been weaponized to other us, to divide us, and to weaken our
collective movements for justice. we resist the way that our communities have been flattened and erased by a president and administration who seek only to use us as pawns. our community has been used as a tool by those pretending to be concerned with our safety to undermine the solidarity we know is needed to achieve justice. we resist the way the same has been done to our muslim neighbors and we stand with them against the racism that is being wielded against them. we have been pitted against each other. our communities targeted and our identities weaponized by those who have never stood with us. inhave been dehumanized service of a white nationalists agenda and our greatest power in resisting that is in our solidarity. the president has engaged in a campaign to label us as something other than americans, to define our identities and to
pigeonhole us, to tell us what issues we care about. while defending the actions of neo-nazis, while running ads with anti-semitic language, while lifting up the leadership of members of congress who target us, they want to define our oppression and turn us against each other, but we will stand together, not just for our own safety, but in pursuit of justice and peace everywhere. thank you. thank you. rosay, we will hear from from the if not now movement. >> my name is rosa. i'm here as a constituent of congresswoman omar. my jewish values call me to defend the freedom and dignity
of all people. it is because of these values that organize with if not now, a movement working to end our support for the israeli military occupation over palestinians. complex,tion may be but it is not complicated. the occupation is a daily nightmare for those who live it in a moral disaster for those who supported. what we saw this week demonstrates israel's desperation to hide the reality of the occupation from us. palestinians are denied access to medical care, education, economic opportunity, and freedom of movement. the israeli government receives millions of dollars from the u.s. annually. when the israeli government denies entry to our democratically elected members of congress, they show us that they have something to hide. when american politicians try to
silence ilhan omar and rashida tlaib, they are complicit. when political leaders peddle hate and mistrust, it impacts us right here in minnesota. when the political right tells jews to fear progressive leaders, they are weaponizing anti-semitism for their own gain. i refused to let my jewish identity be used as a tool to incite islamaphobia. i reject the narrative that anti-occupation means anti-jew. intand by my congresswoman demanding accountability. i stand by her in the face of racist attacks by those who seek to pit my jewish community against the muslims. that strategy will not work. the real threat to our communities is white nationalism. the same ideology that motivates
anti-semitism motivates islamaphobia. it is only by standing together that we can build a better world. thank you so much. rep. omar: thank you, rosa. for being herell in solidarity with us. i think before we open up for ,uestions, i just wanted to say what often gets lost in this thatrsation is the fact our work in uplifting marginalized voices is historically documented. here isn't really anyone that we have not done work with. rashida talks about the detroit
community she represents. also represent minneapolis, the heart of every progressive movement. [laughter] rep. tlaib: we did start the labor rights movement. just want you to know. we died for the labor rights movement. rep. omar: it is such an honor to be serving with you not only because we are the first muslim women to serve, but because we represent people who understand ,nd value the fight we are in on behalf of all oppressed people around the world. we will take a few questions. we have to get to a town hall in a little bit. >> what is the reaction from your district? rep. omar: the reaction in my district has been an
overwhelming outcry and condemnation of the particular action that has been taken by the netanyahu administration at the urging of our president. people really are appalled in many ways. people feel like when you are a united states citizen -- forget the fact that we are members of congress, when you are a united president,zen, your your ambassadors, your state department works on your behalf. they defend you and fight for speech,ht to freedom of to freedom of movement, and to have an administration and a president and ambassador -- >> unfortunately we've had an interruption in our schedule. we will get back to our normal