Obama refused to allow radical member of Israeli Knesset to visit US in 2012

Screen capture … Michael Ben Ari … Credit: ILTV Israel Daily

Leftist critics have made a lot of noise lately over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent “unprecedented” decision to prevent two radical, anti-Semitic congresswomen from entering Israel. An inconvenient fact, however, is that only seven years ago, Democrat President Barack Obama did the same exact thing, barring a radical member of the Israeli Knesset from the United States.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren are just two of the stumbling liberal politicians who overlooked that history when they tweeted their outrage over Netanyahu’s move.

In spite of being Obama’s right hand man, Biden seemed to have forgotten (or perhaps hoped everyone else would) that in 2012 they did precisely what the former VP said should not happen. He wrote: “No democracy should deny entry to visitors based on the content of their ideas—even ideas they strongly object to.”

In 2012, far right Knesset member Michael Ben Ari was banned from the U.S.

A member of Israel’s National Union coalition of right-wing parties, Ben Ari wanted to attend two conferences in the United States and was denied by the Obama administration  on the grounds that Ben Ari “belonged to a terrorist organization,” though the name of the terrorist organization was not listed. At the time, Ben Ari told Haaretz he suspected that it was his past association with Kach – a far-right political movement banned in Israel in 1994 – decades earlier.

Objecting to his being blocked from coming to America, Ben Ari said: “The U.S. government, who receives with open arms Ahmadinejad, who calls for the destruction of Israel, Abbas, who planned the murder of children in Jerusalem, and 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, of the Likud party, wrote in a letter that it was “unacceptable” to ban a Knesset member from the United States. “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,” Rivlin wrote. “To impugn him as belonging to a terrorist organization and bar him from visiting the country is unacceptable.”

It happened. And there were few objections at the time from the American left.

But “unprecedented” is the word many on the left today are using to try to frame a completely legitimate decision by the Prime Minister to ensure that Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were not intending to stir up hatred in the West Bank during their planned visit.

Warren tweeted: “Israel doesn’t advance its case as a tolerant democracy or unwavering US ally by barring elected members of Congress from visiting because of their political views. This would be a shameful, unprecedented move.”

Washington Post blogger and MSNBC contributor Jennifer Rubin was another leftist who claimed the move was unprecedented. She tweeted, “The ban is a stunning, unprecedented step …”

CNAS Director Ilan Goldenberger hinged his complaints on the “unprecedented” aspect …

NBC anchor Andrea Mitchell jumped aboard as well …

There ought to be some red faces out there, but shame and regret are foreign concepts on the left side of the spectrum.


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Victor Rantala


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