She presents herself as a brave fighter for justice,
while turning a blind eye to the horrific injustices in her own identity group.
January 3, 2019 was a day of celebration for Rashida Tlaib.
Tlaib, a woman, was one of the first two Palestinian Americans to be elected to the US Congress. Speaking at a public event a few hours after her swearing in, Tlaib recounted a conversation she had had with her son.
“Momma, look, you won. Bullies don’t win” her son said.
She replied, “And I said, ‘Baby they don’t, because we’re going to go in there and impeach the motherf***er.” The crowd applauded enthusiastically.
A Partisan Beginning
At the swearing-in ceremony, Tlaib chose to put her hand on a Koran, instead of the customary Bible.
A guest of honor at Tlaib’s swearing-in was Linda Sarsour, a fellow Palestinian and supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. Sarsour is also one of the controversial leaders of the Women’s March. Just weeks earlier, the founder of the March had asked Sarsour and the other Women’s March leaders to step down from their positions as a result of a number of their actions that were widely interpreted as anti-Semitic.1,2
In August of 2018, prior to her primary election victory, Tlaib said she supported aid to Israel and a two-state solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict. But in a press interview just a week after her primary win, she reversed course, calling emphatically for a one-state solution and an end to all US aid to Israel. These are her current policy positions.
Tlaib also said she is “very supportive” of the Arab Palestinian “right of return.” This policy would flood Israel, a nation of 6.6 million Jews, with over five million descendants of Arabs who left Israel as a result of wars with neighboring Arab states. Israel would then become another Arab state. Tlaib has not commented on the massive ethnic cleansing of over 850,000 Jews from Arab states in the years following Israel’s founding. Nor has she speculated on whether this tragedy would be repeated in a new Arab state that would replace Israel after Palestinian Arabs exercised their “right of return.”
Tlaib’s anti-Israel stance was highlighted in her first day of office by a map hanging on her office wall. A note was attached to the map. In the precise place of Israel on the map, was a Post-It note that said, “Palestine.”
The morning of Tlaib’s swearing-in ceremony, her brother called into a radio news program. “I’m proud of you,” he said. “I can’t wait to see you getting sworn in on Jefferson’s Quran and wearing the Palestinian flag.”
Although Tlaib did not wear a Palestinian flag to the ceremony, she did wear a traditional Palestinian Arab dress called a thobe. This came as no surprise. Tlaib had announced her intention to wear a traditional Arab costume to the swearing-in, as a sign of pride in her heritage.
But to assure that a Palestinian perspective was to be heard in Congress, in the month preceding her swearing-in, Tlaib announced her intention to lead a delegation of incoming Congressional legislators on a tour of the Palestinian territories. Tlaib’s announcement left no doubt that the purpose of her tour was to assign all blame for the Israeli-Arab impasse to the Israelis. The proposed tour will explore Israeli (but not Palestinian) human rights violations. According to Tlaib, her tour will teach US legislators about Israel’s abuses, such as detention of Palestinian children, and poor access to clean water. Tlaib will also “highlight the inherent inequality of Israel’s system of military occupation in Palestinian territories,” which Tlaib claims is similar to Jim Crow restrictions experienced by African-Americans in the US.3
Misplaced Loyalties and Double Standards
There was a time in recent memory when elected officials proclaimed their devotion to the interests of their constituents—-all of them, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin or religion. Perhaps Tlaib’s rapid ascent to power signals the end of this core feature of American representative democracy.
In today’s fractured world of identity politics, progressives feel no shame in seeking to use political power to advance the interests of the narrow identity group to which they belong. But there is one caveat. Progressives promote only the interests of groups they favor. These include people of color, new immigrants and Muslims. They do not include whites, native-born Americans, Christians and Jews. Convinced by the justice of their cause, progressives never stop to think about the effects of their divisive advocacy on the social compact that has united this nation, a compact that insists, at least in theory, on giving voice to every segment of society based on its membership in the American project.
This double standard could be seen clearly if we imagined, say, a Jewish member of Congress acting in the self-promoting fashion of Rashida Tlaib.
Imagine if a Jewish member of Congress:
- insisted on draping himself in a tallit for his swearing-in ceremony and placing his hand on a Jewish religious text?
- in his first days of office, talked almost exclusively about exposing Palestinian abuses and promoting the interests of Israel?
- invited to his swearing-in ceremony, a Jewish advocate of flooding Palestinian areas in the West Bank with millions of Jewish immigrants in order to make a Palestinian state impossible?
- placed a map in his office with the names of Palestinian towns erased?
- made his first legislative effort the cancellation of all US aid to Palestinians?
- announced a tour of the West Bank and Gaza to teach US legislators about human rights abuses by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas? (Denial of free elections, criminalization of dissent, summary executions, persecution of gays and Christians, prison torture, the apartheid practice of anti-Jewish exclusion and expulsions, educating school children in Jew hatred, and the death penalty for any Arab who sells land to a Jew.)
- sponsored a tour to teach US legislators about the pathologies of Palestinian society? (Honor killings, blood revenge, female genital mutilation, death as punishment for apostasy, and glorification of terrorism.)
The End of America?
The American project is over. In its place, each identity group fights for its own. The results are unknown.
Imagine a time traveler, recently arrived from my parents’ World War Two era. The traveler might be forgiven for concluding that the US has gone mad. He would marvel at the way politicians like Tlaib promote solely the interests of their own narrow group.
He might wonder why Tlaib went out of her way to dress, talk and act like an Arab Palestinian, rather than an American.
He might wonder at the wisdom of advocating on behalf of a group of people living in the Israeli territories, a people who have traditionally been hostile to the US. (Witness the public celebrations in the territories after the Twin Tower attacks on the US in 2001, when almost 3,000 Americans perished. Witness the many Palestinian terrorist attacks that have maimed and killed Americans, and that are celebrated by the Palestinian government, civil society groups, schools and even soccer teams.)
Ideologues like Tlaib accuse American Jews of dual loyalty, that is, of being more loyal to Israel than to the US. But don’t Tlaib’s actions signal her own dual loyalty, that is, that she is more loyal to Palestine than to the US? If so, then why haven’t progressives criticized her for this? Is it because she belongs to a group favored by them?
Have progressives stopped to consider that their particularistic advocacy might ruin the peace, prosperity and freedom of the US? If the US becomes indistinguishable from the countries from which their favored immigrant groups have fled, then where will people go to escape tyranny?
Have Tlaib and her supporters considered fighting against the horrific human rights abuses in the Palestinian Authority and Hamas-ruled Gaza strip? Why are their efforts aimed only at demonizing Israel, where Jews and Arabs both enjoy the freedoms that are guaranteed in Western democracies and are sorely lacking in the Muslim world?
Rashida Tlaib is a fraud.
She presents herself as a brave fighter for justice, while turning a blind eye to the horrific injustices in her own identity group. She paints herself and her family as victims. She tells a one-sided narrative of her own group. She blithely ignores her obligation to represent the interests of her electorate. Instead, she devotes herself to destroying Israel, the only democracy and the most important US ally in the Middle East, thereby damaging American interests.
Puffed up with a false sense of power and righteousness, and using an expletive, she arrogantly threatened to impeach the president of the United States. She thereby undermined the legislative process and served as a poor role model for others.
She has used the freedoms afforded by the US to act against the interests of this country.
She is no hero.
- North, A. The Women’s March Changed the American Left. Now Anti-Semitism Allegations Threaten the Group’s Future. VOX, December 21, 2018. Retrieved December 6, 2019 from:
At a November 2016 organizing meeting of the Women’s March, leaders Carmen Perez and Tamika Mallory proclaimed that “Jewish people bore a special collective responsibility as exploiters of black and brown people.” They claimed that Jews were proven to be leaders of the American slave trade.
At a subsequent meeting, Perez and Mallory berated Jewish organizer,
Vanessa Wruble, for being Jewish. They complained to Wruble,“Your people this, your people that.” Perez and Mallory claimed that “your people [Jews] hold all the wealth.”
- Sarsour has declared “Nothing is creepier than Zionism.” And recently she castigated Jews who criticized Congressional candidate Ilhan Omar, resurrecting the time-worn accusation of Jewish dual loyalty: “This [criticism of Omar] is not only coming from the right-wing but some folks who masquerade as progressives but always choose their allegiance to Israel over their commitment to democracy and free speech.”
- Rashida Tlaib to Head Congressional Delegation to West Bank, Endorses BDS. Ha’aretz, December 2, 2018. Retrieved December 5, 2018 from: