'May God ruin him': Tlaib's grandmother not impressed by Trump's attentions
Sitting under an olive tree in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Muftya Tlaib scoffs at the attention she has recently received from the president of the United States.
"May God ruin him," she says.
Tlaib is the grandmother of US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, at the centre of an affair that has drawn Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu together against US Democrats, Reuters reported.
On Thursday, bowing to pressure from Trump, Israel barred a visit by Rashida Tlaib and fellow Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar that it had initially said it would allow.
The next day, Israel said it would let Tlaib visit her family in the West Bank on humanitarian grounds, but Tlaib rejected the offer, saying that Israel had imposed restrictions meant to humiliate her.
On Friday night, Trump tweeted: "Rep. Tlaib wrote a letter to Israeli officials desperately wanting to visit her grandmother. Permission was quickly granted, whereupon Tlaib obnoxiously turned the approval down, a complete setup. The only real winner here is Tlaib's grandmother. She doesn't have to see her now!"
Ninety-year-old Muftya Tlaib, sitting in her garden in the village of Beit Ur al-Fauqa, was not impressed. "Trump tells me I should be happy Rashida is not coming," she said. "May God ruin him."
Earlier this week, before the Israeli decision, Muftiya had told Middle East Eye: "I'm going to prepare all the Palestinian food that her heart pleases and we will pick figs off the trees together."
Her son, Rashida's uncle Bassam Tlaib, said the women had not seen each other since 2006.
"Rashida sees her granny as a second mother, she has always supported her. Rashida says she owes her success to her grandmother."
A few hours after Israel announced its decision to bar her entry, Rashida Tlaib shared a photograph of her grandmother on Twitter. "This woman right here is my sity [grandmother]. She deserves to live in peace & with human dignity. I am who I am because of her," she tweeted.
On Saturday, Bassam Tlaib said: "Trump has told Rashida and Ilhan to go back to their home countries. What a contradiction, yesterday he asked them to leave and today he asks that they aren't let in."
Rashida Tlaib did not outline what the conditions imposed on her visit were. Israeli media reported that she had agreed not to promote boycotts against Israel as part of her request.
Tlaib, like Omar, has voiced support for the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, which opposes the occupation and Israel's policies toward Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. BDS backers can be denied entry to Israel by law.
Despite making it to Congress against all odds, many of her relatives have wondered what leeway Tlaib has to make real changes under Trump, seen by many Palestinians as one of the most anti-Palestinian heads of states in US history.
Bassam said Rashida is well aware of the suffering faced by the Palestinian people, an image she aims to reflect to other Congress members and to the rest of the world.
"We are proud of Rashida, as the first Arab, Muslim, Palestinian woman to reach Congress,” he said.
In her statement on Friday, the congresswoman said: "The Israeli and Palestinian people need us to be more courageous and to be honest brokers of peace. Being silent and not condemning the human rights violations of the Israeli government is a disservice to all who live there, including my incredibly strong and loving grandmother.
"This type of oppression is painful for all humanity, but it is especially painful for me personally every time I hear my loving family members cry out for the freedom to live and the right to feel human."