Sunday, August 19, 2018

by Noah Phillips

Rashida Tlaibs primary victory in Detroits 13th Congressional district is daunting for Israel supporters in the US and abroad. In a matter of months, Tlaib will have sizable influence to effect change on an issue central to her heritage (she is a Palestinian-American), the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with a voice infallibly slated against Israel.

Following her primary victory and piquing national and international attention, Tlaib regularly lambasted Israel on a slew of topics. In the past few days alone, shes called for US aid to Israel to be cut, expressed support for BDS, and endorsed a one-state solution.

I spoke with Tlaibs campaign manager, Steve Tobocman, ahead of the primaries, and he asserted that Tlaib supports a two-state solution, which she now has contradicted. He also stated that Tlaib supported a foreign aid budget to Israel, another position she changed after the election. Tobocman did not immediately respond to my request for clarification on Tlaibs policies.

Yet Tlaibs recent rhetoric and past actions are indicative of her genuine beliefs on the conflict.

Tlaib was a keynote speaker at one of Detroits largest BDS rallies in 2014, long before her Congressional bid. The rally drew tens of thousands chanting Free Palestine! while touting Palestinian flags. Also speaking at the event was Dawud Walid, who heads up the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and publicly discusses his woes with Jews and Zionists.

Who are those that incur the wrath of Allah? They are the Jews, they are the Jews, Walid said in a 2012 sermon, one of many anti-Semitic comments hes made in the past.

Tlaib is also well acquainted with Linda Sarsour, notoriously recognized by the pro-Israel lobby for her contempt of Israel and as supporter of anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan. During the campaign, Sarsour spoke at a Tlaib campaign event giving her endorsement. The relationship between Tlaib and Sarsour dates back years, to the point where Sarsour described Tlaib as a mentor and role model, a disconcerting sign given Sarsours track record on Israel. When I asked Tobocman about Tlaibs relationship with Sarsour, he shifted the subject of the conversation, which he soon after ended.

Tlaib has also expressed sympathy for terrorist and murderer Rasmea Odeh on Twitter.

This is the quality of character chosen by Michiganders to represent them. They chose someone with a vengeance against the State of Israel and who stands by such people as Odeh, and who reverses her position on numerous critical policies following the primary election.

So why has Tlaib garnered so much support despite her evident character flaws and poor choice in associates?

The answer largely has to do with the race for diversity for the sake of diversity, to the point where politicians are elected largely on the basis of their racial and ethnic group. Whether intentionally or not, Tlaib banked on being the first Muslim women to potentially reach Congress in order to grasp voter attention. And Tlaib had significant help from media outlets covering the primaries. Its unfortunate, but its a fact, that the vast majority of headlines about Tlaib read along the lines of First Muslim-American Women Makes Run for Congress, entirely ignoring her policies, her questionable friends, and her as a person, beyond being a member of a religion and female. But people love a pioneerand thats precisely what Rashida Tlaib represents.

However this isnt true diversity, and this isnt the diversity needed in todays world. Instead, its putting the faith of a candidate before the quality of their ideas, a phenomenon which is discriminatory in and of itself.

Diversity is an incredible thing, and initiatives for diversity in institutions have the potential to bring inclusivity and tolerance that has been lacking so heavily in recent years. But when diversity is misconstrued in such a way that Rashida Tlaib is acclaimed in spite of her demagoguery towards Israel, its purpose is entirely defeated.

As a result of this pseudo-diversity, Tlaibs dangerous associations with anti-Semites and Israel-haters, as well as her unconscionable rhetoric are overshadowed by her pioneer-status as a Muslim-American woman.

In this regard, Tlaib resembles another starlet of the 2018 primary campaign: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, another harsh critic of Israel, who spoke at a campaign event promoting Tlaib. Cortez fired up the crowd when she exclaimed that 2018 isnt the year that we get our first Muslim woman to Congress. Its that we get our first class of Muslim women to Congress. Cortez would better serve the country if instead of placing the religion of Islam on a pedestal, she spoke to the policies of Tlaib and other Muslim candidates, which are what truly need the attention of voters.

And as per usual, Israel is caught directly in the crosshairs of the pseudo-diversity phenomenon. The blatant distaste for Israel presented by Tlaib as well as Cortez and others, is reprehensible to say the least. Yet we see weak secular media coverage of this and no voter outcry condemning the outrageous beliefs and actions of Tlaib.

This is not a denigration of Islam, or any other minority group for that matter, but a critique of how politicians are nowadays evaluated first and foremost, as a race, an ethnicity, a gender, and a religion, all before being assessed as future lawmakers and leaders of society.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.


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