JERUSALEM: Feminist icon Gloria Steinem has called Israel’s prime minister a “bully” and says she will not visit as long as he remains the country’s leader.
In a statement posted online on Saturday, she said Israeli Prime Minister 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.”
Israel denied entry to Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar last week over their support for the Palestinian-led boycott movement. The two are outspoken critics of Trump and of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. They were subjected to a series of racist tweets from 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,” Steinem wrote, addressing 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.”
Israel later granted permission for Tlaib to visit her grandmother in the occupied West Bank on humanitarian grounds, and released a letter purportedly signed by Tlaib in which she promised not to advocate boycotts during her visit.
Tlaib declined to come, saying Israel’s “oppressive” conditions were designed to humiliate her.
Israel accused her of staging a provocation.
Tlaib tweeted that she could not allow Israel to “use my love for my sity to bow down to their oppressive & racist policies.”
“Sitty,” spelled different ways in English, is an Arabic term of endearment for one’s grandmother.
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,” or “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,” Omar tweeted.