Rashida Tlaib’s primary victory in Detroit’s 13th Congressional district is daunting for Israel supporters in the US and abroad. In a matter of months, Tlaib will have sizable influence in order 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, she’s called for US aid to Israel to be cut, expressed support for BDS and endorsed a one-state solution.
I spoke with Tlaib’s campaign manager, Steve Tobocman, ahead of the primaries, and he said that Tlaib supports a two-state solution, which she now denies. He also stated that Tlaib supports a foreign aid budget to Israel, another position she changed after winning the primary. Tobocman did not immediately respond to my request for clarification on Tlaib’s policies.
Yet Tlaib’s recent rhetoric and past actions are indicative of her genuine beliefs on the conflict.
Tlaib was a keynote speaker at one of Detroit’s largest BDS rallies in 2014, long before her Congressional bid. The rally drew tens of thousands, chanting “Free Palestine!” while waving 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 animosity for 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 he has made.
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 Sarsour’s track record on Israel. When I asked Tobocman about Tlaib’s relationship with Sarsour, he shifted the subject of the conversation, which he soon after ended.
Tlaib has also expressed sympathy for Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh on Twitter.
This is who Michiganders have chosen to represent them – a person with a vengeful agenda against the State of Israel, stands by the likes of Odeh, and reverses her position on numerous critical policies following the primary election.
So why has Tlaib garnered so much support despite her evident lack of integrity and poor choice of associates?
The answer largely has to do with the political correctness of diversity to the point where politicians are elected largely on the basis of their racial and ethnic backgrounds. Tlaib likely banked on being the first Muslim woman to potentially reach Congress in order to grasp voter attention. And she had significant help from media outlets covering the primaries.
It’s an unfortunate fact that the vast majority of headlines about Tlaib read along the lines of “First Muslim-American Woman Makes Run for Congress,” entirely ignoring her policies, her questionable friends, and her own persona beyond being a member of a minority group and a female. But people love a pioneer—and that’s precisely what Rashida Tlaib represents.
However, this isn’t true diversity, and this isn’t the diversity needed in today’s world. Instead, it’s prioritizing the ethnicity of a candidate before the quality of his or her ideas, a phenomenon which is discriminatory in and of itself.
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, the purpose is entirely defeated.
As a result of this pseudo-diversity, Tlaib’s 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, also a harsh critic of Israel, who spoke at a campaign event promoting Tlaib. Cortez fired up the crowd when she exclaimed that “2018 isn’t the year that we get our first Muslim woman to Congress. It’s that we get our first class of Muslim women to Congress.”
As usual, Israel is caught directly in the crosshairs of the pseudo-diversity phenomenon. Yet we see little media coverage and no voter outcry condemning the outrageous statements made by Tlaib.