- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 22, 2022

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), America’s largest Muslim advocacy group, called on all Democratic House members Thursday “not to engage in dishonest, Islamophobic attacks” on Rep. Rashida Tlaib over her latest remarks about Israel.

Ms. Tlaib, Michigan Democrat reignited a feud within the Democratic caucus this week when she told an online conference that “among progressives, it has become clear that you cannot claim to hold progressive values, yet back Israel‘s apartheid government.”

The seminar was hosted by Americans for Justice in Palestine Action and co-sponsored by American Muslims for Palestine. Fellow Democratic lawmakers were swift to criticize Ms. Tlaib.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the former head of the Democratic National Committee, called it “shameful and dangerous” for Ms. Tlaib to say progressives shouldn’t support the government of Israel

“Proud progressives do support Israel‘s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state. … Divisive rhetoric does not lead to peace,” she said.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York also took umbrage with Ms. Tlaib’s remarks.

“I fundamentally reject the notion that one cannot support Israel‘s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state and be a progressive,” he stated on Twitter.

Reps. Haley Stevens of Michigan, Juan Vargas of California, Ted Deutch of Florida and Ritchie Torres of New York all made similar statements in response to Ms. Tlaib. Three of those six Democratic lawmakers are Jewish.

According to CAIR, their criticisms constitute Islamophobia.

“Over the past several days the offices of these lawmakers have mischaracterized and gone after Rep. Tlaib for stating ‘that among progressives, it has become clear that you cannot claim to hold progressive values, yet back Israel‘s apartheid government,’” CAIR said.

The Islamic-advocacy group characterized Ms. Tlaib’s words as a “commonsense observation that supporting apartheid overseas is incompatible with democratic values here at home.”

The organization cited Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Presbyterian Church USA, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israeli human rights group B’Tselem all having recently recognized that the Israeli government’s “decades-long human rights abuses against the Palestinian people, including physical segregation and different laws based on race, constitute a system of apartheid.”

“Just a few weeks ago, the Israeli government announced it would not launch a criminal investigation into the Israeli military sniper who deliberately shot and killed American journalist and citizen Shireen Abu Akleh,” CAIR said in its statement. “The only reason for ignoring this murder, which was caught on camera, is that this American citizen was a Palestinian.”

The organization took Democrats to task for leaping “to the worst possible interpretation of what one of their Muslim colleagues said,” and saying it is not the first time members of the caucus have made such criticisms of Muslim lawmakers.

“This is simply Islamophobic. The fact that this scenario has occurred with such frequency over the past several years points to the need for Democrats in Congress to address the issue of Islamophobia within their own ranks,” CAIR maintained.

CAIR accused House Democrats of marginalizing and silencing elected Muslims and Arabs “who speak the truth to their lived experiences” and called it “discriminatory and incompatible with democratic values.”  

• Kerry Picket can be reached at kpicket@washingtontimes.com.

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