ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 140

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Tlaib calls Netanyahu a ‘genocidal maniac,’ rebukes US lawmakers who meet him

Palestinian-American congresswoman says those who ‘sit down with this murderer’ are ‘supporting a war criminal’; was censured by Congress after accusing Biden of backing ‘genocide’

Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib stands outside of her office after placing a Palestinian flag there on January 25, 2023. (Rashida Tlaib/Twitter)
Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib stands outside of her office after placing a Palestinian flag there on January 25, 2023. (Rashida Tlaib/Twitter)

In a story posted on her Instagram profile Wednesday night, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “genocidal maniac,” castigating members of Congress who agree to meet with him.

“Every member of Congress who sits down with this murderer is supporting a war criminal,” wrote Tlaib. “We will never forget.”

Tlaib’s comments come less than a week after a member of her own party, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), met with Netanyahu while visiting Israel on an official Intelligence Committee trip, and two months after Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) led a bipartisan group of senators on a trip to Israel, also meeting with Netanyahu. However, on October 31, Defense Minister Lloyd Austin signed a memo announcing the Pentagon would not support congressional visits to Israel, citing the need to restrict non-essential security measures in the region.

The congresswoman has been outspoken in her criticism of US President Joe Biden, a member of her party, for his support of Israel in its war against Hamas, triggered by the terror group’s shock assault on Israel on October 7 when terrorists killed 1,200 people and took 240 hostages of all ages.

She has also accused Biden of supporting what she alleged was a “genocide” of Palestinians by backing Israel’s offensive against Hamas, which is openly avowed to Israel’s destruction.

“Joe Biden supported the genocide of the Palestinian people. The American people won’t forget. Biden, support a ceasefire now. Or don’t count on us in 2024,” read a video she posted on November 3. She did not offer evidence for the grave accusation.

In the video, Tlaib threatened electoral backlash against the president.

The video led to her censure by Congress due to its use of the slogan “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which many construe as a call for the destruction of the Jewish state, though Tlaib said she considers it “an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate.” In the past, Tlaib has expressed support for a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which would effectively end the Jewish state.

Tlaib is the only Palestinian-American member of Congress, representing Michigan’s 13th district, which includes Dearborn, home to the largest per-capita Muslim population in the United States, and a large Palestinian-American community.

While many Democrats have stood behind Biden’s support of Israel during the war, those in the more progressive wing of the party, like Tlaib, have called for a ceasefire and denounced Israel’s actions.

She was one of nine Democrats who voted against a House measure condemning the Hamas atrocities in late October, including Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Jamaal Bowman of New York, Cori Bush of Missouri, Al Green of Texas, Summer Lee of Pennsylvania, Andre Carson of Indiana and Delia Ramirez of Illinois.

Most of the Democratic “no” votes were from the Squad, a group of progressive lawmakers, who have been highly critical of Israel since before the war.

Bowman, Lee, Omar, and Tlaib also were among the 17 sponsors of a separate resolution in late October asking the Biden administration to call for a ceasefire. Critics of that resolution said it failed to mention Hamas’s massacre of Israelis on October 7, hostages held by Hamas, or that the US considers Hamas a terrorist organization.

Hamas, meanwhile, has rejected several offers for a ceasefire.

Tlaib has been a harsh critic of Israel throughout her term as a congresswoman.

In 2019, goaded on by then-president Donald Trump, the Israeli government refused entry to Tlaib and Omar, citing the progressives’ support for the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement, in a move that drew strong rebukes from left-wing American leaders, as well as internal criticism.

At the time, Tlaib refused Israel’s “humanitarian” offer to let her grandmother in the West Bank.

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