Rashida Tlaib poses with Hezbollah-backing anti-Israel activist
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Rashida Tlaib poses with Hezbollah-backing anti-Israel activist

Abbas Hamideh, who heads a Palestinian ‘right of return’ group, posts photo of the two after reception and private dinner; Tlaib’s office doesn’t respond to request for comment

Eric Cortellessa covers American politics for The Times of Israel.

Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib poses with the pro-Hezbollah, pro-Hamas 'right of return' activist Abbas Hamideh on Saturday, January 12, 2019. (Twitter)
Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib poses with the pro-Hezbollah, pro-Hamas 'right of return' activist Abbas Hamideh on Saturday, January 12, 2019. (Twitter)

WASHINGTON — An anti-Israel extremist who heads a “right of return” advocacy group — and has equated Zionism to Nazism and called Israel a “terrorist entity” — attended a Detroit swearing-in reception and dinner party for freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib, where he posed with her for a photograph that he tweeted on Saturday.

Tlaib, a Palestinian-American member of Congress, is a Democrat from Michigan. She was inducted into the House of Representatives two weeks ago but had a separate event for her constituents over the weekend.

“I was honored to be at Congresswoman @RashidaTlaib swearing in ceremony in Detroit and private dinner afterward with the entire family, friends and activists across the country, said Abbas Hamideh, the co-founder and executive director of Al Awda, which means “right of return.”

In the picture, Hamideh is holding a painting of Tlaib in front of the US Capitol while wearing a thobe, a traditional Palestinian gown that she wore during her swearing-in on Capitol Hill.

It’s not clear how Hamideh ended up at Tlaib’s reception, whether she invited him or whether she knew about his background. Tlaib’s office did respond to a request for comment.

Tlaib, for her part, is one of the first members of Congress to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. She has also backed a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has called for cutting US aid to the country.

The “right of return” is one of the core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians claim that five million people — tens of thousands of original refugees from what is today’s Israel, and their millions of descendants — have a “right of return.” Israel rejects the demand, saying that it represents a bid by the Palestinians to destroy Israel by weight of numbers. Israel’s population is almost nine million, some three-quarters of whom are Jewish. If millions of Palestinians were to return to Israel, it would no longer be a Jewish-majority state.

Hamideh’s social media presence is noteworthy for its virulent attacks on the Jewish state.

“Criminal Zionism will eventually die just like Nazism. No racist and supremacist political ideology should maintain itself,” he once tweeted. “Israel does not have a right to exist. The terrorist entity is illegal and has no basis to exist other than a delusional ISIS like ideology,” he wrote.

Moreover, he’s an ardent supporter of Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanon-based terrorist organization bent on Israel’s destruction.

In August 2016, Hamideh tweeted: “Happy Birthday to the most honorable Arab-Muslim leader of our lifetime.” He was referring to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

According to his organization’s website, Hamideh’s family came from Deir Yassin. He was educated in the United States and graduated from the City University of New York.

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