The driving force behind everything Donald Trump does is cruelty towards people who he believes has wronged him. There's no depths of petty vengeance that Trump won't sink to in order to humiliate and destroy his political enemies, even when those actions threaten to endanger those he hates.
No wonder then that Trump's latest victims are House Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the only two black Muslim women in Congress, and Trump is now enlisting embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in order to inflict punishment.
President Trump has told advisers he thinks Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should use Israel's anti-boycott law to bar Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) from entering Israel, according to three sources familiar with the situation.
What he's saying: Trump's private views have reached the top level of the Israeli government. But Trump denies, through White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, ever giving any kind of directive to the Israelis. "The Israeli government can do what they want. It's fake news," Grisham said on Saturday.
Driving the news: Trump has told U.S. advisers, including senior Trump administration officials, that Israel should bar Omar and Tlaib's entry because the two congresswomen favor a boycott of Israel, according to sources familiar with Trump's private comments. In 2017, Israel's parliament passed a law requiring the interior minister to block foreign nationals from entering Israel if they have supported boycotting the Jewish state.
Trump's reaction came days after the U.S. House overwhelmingly passed a resolution to condemn the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS movement, which Omar and Tlaib support. The resolution states that the global movement to boycott the state of Israel over its policies toward Palestinians "promotes principles of collective guilt, mass punishment and group isolation, which are destructive of prospects for progress towards peace."
Omar and Tlaib voted against the resolution.
Between the lines: Trump told confidants he disagreed with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer's rationale for Israel to overlook the law to let Omar and Tlaib visit Israel. Dermer said last month: "Out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel."
Trump said that if Omar and Tlaib wanted to boycott Israel, "then Israel should boycott them," according to a source with direct knowledge.
Israeli officials say congressional Democratic leadership pushed Dermer to allow the congresswomen into the country. Their advocacy, per those officials, is a major reason why Netanyahu will allow the two women in.
The Democrats had argued that if the Israeli government blocked Omar and Tlaib's entry, then other Democratic members would cancel a planned, AIPAC-sponsored Israel trip in solidarity, these officials said.
Both Omar and Tlaib were expected to arrive in Israel next weekend for a planned trip to the Holy Land, but now there's little chance that Netanyahu will allow that to happen. What will really seal the deal though is when Democrats go through with their AIPAC retreat in Israel anyway.
Neither party will risk pissing off Israel over two black Muslim women. Not by a long shot.