The Simon Wiesenthal Center wrote to House speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday to complain about comments made by two freshman Muslim Congresswomen, labeling them “extreme anti-Israel and anti-Semitic statements.”
The Jewish human rights group singled out Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib for comments she made earlier in the month questioning the loyalty of lawmakers who were pushing a bill that would protect states that penalize Israel boycotters.
Tlaib, in a January 6 tweet, attacked a Senate bill initiated by Senator Marco Rubio and Senator James Risch, an Idaho Republican, that incorporates four Middle East-related bills that languished in the last Congress.
One of the measures protects states that pass anti-BDS bills, including those that ban work with contractors who boycott Israel, from lawsuits. Civil libertarians have decried the state laws as impinging on speech freedoms.
“They forgot what country they represent,” tweeted Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American women in Congress. “This is the US where boycotting is a right & part of our historical fight for freedom & equality.”
They forgot what country they represent. This is the U.S. where boycotting is a right & part of our historical fight for freedom & equality. Maybe a refresher on our U.S. Constitution is in order, then get back to opening up our government instead of taking our rights away. https://t.co/KkmqjR58ZM
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) January 7, 2019
The Simon Wiesenthal Center decried the tweet, saying it was a “cynically alleged ‘dual loyalty’ screed, historically a dog whistle for anti-Semites.”
And it pointed out that “Tlaib also now endorses a ‘One-State Solution’ in the Holy Land.”
“Congressperson Tlaib has every right to be proud that she came to this country as a refugee and has every right to advocate for the rights of Palestinians,” said the letter signed by the center’s Rabbi Marvin Hier, and Rabbi Abraham Cooper.
“But Speaker Pelosi, as the leader of the Democratic Party, you should make clear that a one-state solution is a code word for the destruction of the state of Israel – home to the world’s largest Jewish population — and violates everything you and your father have spent your lives defending,” the Rabbis concluded.
The letter also complained about remarks by Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who earlier this week defended a previous tweet calling Israel “evil” and said she couldn’t understand why American Jews would be upset.
“Those unfortunate words were the only words I could think about expressing at that moment,” Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview aired Wednesday night.
The tweet, which said that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel,” came in reaction to Israel’s November 2012 operation against Hamas in Gaza.
“What is really important to me is that people recognize that there is a difference between criticizing a military action by a government that has exercised really oppressive policies and being offensive or attacking to particular people of faith,” said Omar.
Amanpour asked Omar if Jewish Americans “should be worried” about her views because of her support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel or tweets such as the one from 2012.
“In that tweet and in any other conversation I’ve had, I only talk about the State of Israel,” Omar said. “And I think it is really important for us to make sure that we are not associating the people with the country and its government.”
Prior to her election to Congress in November, Omar called BDS “counteractive” and said it prevents dialogue, but a week after her victory she told the Muslim Girl website that she “believes in and supports the BDS movement.”