Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., has generated headlines over a slew of controversial remarks since becoming a member of Congress, many of which have centered on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
One of six members in the progressive group of House representatives known as “The Squad,” Tlaib has been criticized by Republicans and fellow Democrats for what some have described as “anti-Semitic” rhetoric. However, members of the liberal media have largely failed to hold her to account.
Tlaib says you cannot be progressive and also back Israeli government
Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, spoke recently against the Jewish state at an online event hosted by Americans for Justice in Palestine Action.
“I want you all to know that among progressives, it becomes clear that you cannot claim to hold progressive values yet back Israel’s apartheid government,” Tlaib said.
Sharing an article on her comments from The Jerusalem Post on Twitter last week, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., came out against Tlaib.
“I fundamentally reject the notion that one cannot support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state and be a progressive,” Nadler said.
Former Democratic National Committee head Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., also criticized Tlaib, and said in a Wednesday tweet that calling people’s progressive credentials into question over their support of Israel is an “outrageous progressive litmus test” and “nothing short of anti-Semitic.”
Anti-Israel sentiment has been a hallmark of the American far-left, with notable exceptions. Nadler and Schultz are not the only ones in the party who refuse to go along with the trend. Progressive Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., has also frequently clashed with “The Squad.”
But those among the Democratic ranks disquieted by Tlaib’s characterizations about Israel are often drowned out by progressive members of the party, as well as left-leaning media figures, who have ignored her comments, or in some cases even come to her defense.
MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” blog writer Ja’han Jones said on Thursday that House Democrats, such as Nadler and Schultz, were using “Trumpian misinformation tactics” to disparage Tlaib.
The writer claimed Democrats were attacking Tlaib for something she “never said,” and accused Democrats of conflating Israel’s current government with the actual state of Israel.
But, this is not the first time that Tlaib raised eyebrows since she began serving as the representative for Michigan’s 13th congressional district back in 2019. Tlaib, who was one of the first female members of Democratic Socialists for America to serve in Congress, has called for abolishing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the police, and the federal prison system. She also was highly critical of the Trump administration, arguing he was racist against Black and Brown people, including Muslims, and was a vocal proponent of his impeachment.
But Tlaib has received the most widespread criticism for her sharp words against the Israeli government, her calls to end U.S. aid to Israel, and her support of a “one-state solution.”
Tlaib calls Israel a “racist state” and an “apartheid” government
In May 2021, during an interview with MSNBC host Ayman Mohyeldin, Tlaib again referred to Israel as an “apartheid” government, a position she has reinforced on several occasions. She also claimed that Palestinians were subjects of “racist policies” enacted by former Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Just months earlier in January, Tlaib told “Democracy Now!” that Israel is a “racist state” and accused them of denying Palestinians access to the coronavirus vaccine.
Tlaib received no pushback on her comments from the interviewees in either of these sit-downs.
In 2019, Tlaib came under fire for two separate remarks, one involving 9/11, and the other involving the Holocaust.
Talib comes under fire for using the word “calming” while discussing the Holocaust
“There’s always kind of a calming feeling I tell folks when I think of the Holocaust, and the tragedy of the Holocaust, and the fact that it was my ancestors – Palestinians – who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihood, their human dignity, their existence in many ways, have been wiped out, and some people’s passports,” Tlaib said in a May 2019 interview with a Yahoo News podcast.
Tlaib’s comment immediately drew outrage from across the political spectrum, with people taking particular issue with the congresswoman’s use of the word “calming.”
The media went out in full-force to defend Tlaib following her remarks.
Just days later, a Washington Post analysis by Amber Phillips titled “Republicans are ignoring the reality to twist Rep. Tlaib’s ‘calming’ Holocaust remarks,” fired back at critics of the progressive Democrat.
“Her sentiment that Palestinians were martyrs for persecuted Jews is not a popular one among supporters of Israel. And Tlaib did frame her comments awkwardly. ‘Calming’ is not a word normally ascribed to any aspect of the Holocaust,” Philips wrote. “She was overtly critical of what happened to Palestinians but prefaces it by saying she has a positive take on it. That’s dissonant. But that’s not even in the same universe as saying the Holocaust itself makes her feel calm.”
The fact-checking website Snopes also came to Tlaib’s defense and gave the claim that Tlaib celebrated the Holocaust, and that it gave her a calming feeling, a rating of false.
Tlaib did in fact also say that she recently “celebrated” the Holocaust, but quickly altered her wordings to say she “took a moment” to remember the Holocaust.
NBC “Late Night” host Seth Meyers even offered Tlaib an interview on his show to allow her the opportunity to clarify her comments about the genocide.
She said her comments were meant to honor her Palestinian ancestors that provided a safe haven for Jews during the Holocaust, and who lost their lives trying to protect those who fled to Israel and Palestine.
“And it was unfortunate you know, I got a text message from a friend who’s like, ‘Hey, next time, you know, really clarify. Maybe talk like a fourth grader. Because maybe the racist idiots would understand you better,’” Tlaib added as the audience laughed and applauded.
Tlaib is asked about Ilhan Omar’s controversial remarks on 9/11
Four years ago, fellow “squad” member Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., generated controversy while she was speaking at a Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) fundraiser in 2019, where she spoke about the September 11th Attacks and CAIR’s founding.
“Here’s the truth: Far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen and, frankly, I’m tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it,” Omar said.
“CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something, and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties,” Omar continued.
Many took issue with the way Omar described the attacks, particularly with the wording of “some people did something.” The New York Post, in particular, plastered Omar’s words on the cover of the paper with the Twin Towers burning in the background.
During an appearance on MSNBC, Tlaib was asked if Omar should have rethought her words and whether they were appropriate.
“They do this all the time to us, especially women of color,” Tlaib said. “They do that, they take our words out of context because they’re afraid—because we speak truth. We speak truth to power.”
Tlaib further disregarded criticism of Omar as a “racist” and “hateful act.”
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer and Houston Keene contributed to this report.