Many critics called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s move to bar two Democratic congresswomen from entering Israel “unprecedented” — but just 7 years ago, former President Obama barred a member of the Israeli Knesset from entering the U.S.
When news broke out that Benjamin Netanyahu wouldn’t allow Democratic Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, mainstream media and political figures alike were quick to voice their criticisms.
The Democrats were outraged by Israeli Prime Minister’s move so they took to social media to express their anger.
However, The Daily Wire’s editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro reminded former Vice President Joe Biden of the Obama administration’s move to ban Israeli Knesset member Michael Ben Ari in 2012.
Ben Ari, who belonged to Israel’s National Union coalition of right-wing parties, requested a U.S. visa in order to attend two conferences — a request which was denied by Obama’s administration in February of 2012. The American consulate denied the visa on the grounds that Ben Ari “belonged to a terrorist organization.”
The American consulate never publicly released the name of the supposed terrorist organization to which they believed Ben Ari belonged, but he told Israeli outlet Haaretz that he suspected that it was his association with the far-right political movement Kach, that was considered a terrorist organization and had been banned in Israel 18 years prior in 1994.
Ben Ari responded to the Obama’s administration move saying, “The U.S. government, who receives with open arms [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, who calls for the destruction of Israel, [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas, who planned the murder of children in Jerusalem, and [Israeli Arab MK] Ahmed Tibi, who enthusiastically encourages shahids, chose to bar me from meeting with Jewish communities in the U.S. and to encourage aliyah to Israel, with claims that I am a terrorist.”
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin called the move “unacceptable,” stating it in a letter to then U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro, “National Union is a completely legitimate faction of the Israeli parliament, and Ben Ari an elected representative of the State of Israel, a close American ally. To impugn him as belonging to a terrorist organization and bar him from visiting the country is unacceptable.”
Ben Ari, now a part of the far-right Otzma-Yehudit party, was also banned from running for office in March of 2019. The High Court of Justice voted 8-1 to ban Ari, citing his “anti-Arab ideology,” and marking the first time an individual candidate has been banned from elections. The court, however, approved a far-left Jewish candidate and an Arab party slate.