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August 6, 2018 1:35 pm

Michigan Congressional Candidate Pushes an Anti-Israel Agenda

avatar by Emily Benedek

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Capitol Hill. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The 13th Congressional District in Michigan is one of the state’s poorest and neediest. Still reeling from the departure of longtime US Representative John Conyers, 89 — the “dean” of the House of Representatives and the longest serving African-American member of Congress — the district is nevertheless fielding a full slate of candidates for the midterm elections. The group is large, diverse, and filled with Detroit’s African-American political royalty, including Conyers’ grandnephew.

However, the candidate who has raised the most money is a Palestinian-American lawyer named Rashida Tlaib, who aims to the the first Muslim woman in Congress. There is no Republican candidate registered in the battle for this congressional seat, so the winner of the Democratic primary will likely be the new US Representative. The primary will take place on Tuesday, August 7.

Tlaib, who served three terms in the Michigan House of Representatives, is running on a standard progressive platform. Yet her own tweets and the social media posts of her major supporters suggest that Tlaib is far more radical than her public statements suggest.

Riding a wave of progressive female candidates, Tlaib has received endorsements from J Street, the filmmaker Michael Moore, and Justice Democrats, a group that supported Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s win in New York. The New York Times that claims she is “running in the mold of Bernie Sanders.” According to some polling, Tlaib is currently in a three-way tie for first place.

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J Street campaign materials for Tlaib state that she “believes the US should be directly involved with negotiations to reach a two-state solution,” and that she supports the continuation of US funds to both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, particularly those that “foster peace.” Yet her own tweets reveal support for convicted terrorists.

For example, she tweeted “Why Black Lives Matter Activists Are Showing Up for a Palestinian Woman Threatened With Deportation.” The woman in question, Rasmea Odeh, was convicted of murdering two American students in a 1969 Jerusalem supermarket bombing. She was sentenced to life in prison in Israel, but was released in a prisoner exchange after serving only 10 years. She immigrated to the US, but was convicted of immigration fraud in 2014, after it was found that she lied to immigration authorities about her previous conviction. Odeh has since been deported.

Tlaib also tweeted her support of a visit from Islamic Relief to Detroit concerning water issues, although the group has troubling links with the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2014, The United Arab Emirates designated Islamic Relief Worldwide as a terrorist organization.

At the same time, Tlaib criticized California’s Kamala Harris for discussing cooperation between California and Israel on water management, agriculture, and cyber security issues. She implicitly accused Harris of “racism” for meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Tlaib also retweeted a post from Linda Sarsour supporting Ahed Tamimi, a Palestinian girl who was just released from Israeli jail for incitement and assaulting an IDF soldier: “Absolutely inhumane to target a young girl for fighting against racist policies. Her voice should be lifted.” Tamimi is from a family of well-known agitators and terrorists, including a relative who participated in the Sbarro Pizzeria bombing.

One of Tlaib’s major supporters and fundraisers, Maher Abdelqader, an engineer from Kew Gardens, Queens, signed a 2009 open letter to President Obama urging him to support a call for “divestment and boycott of the apartheid state” of Israel. On December 31, 2017, Abdelqader also posted on Instagram an Israeli flag being replaced by a Palestinian flag, followed by a joyous fireworks display and the  words: “Palestine from the river to the sea, from Rosh Haniqra to Eilat.” [He used the Arabic name, Naqura, for Rosh Haniqra, and Rashrash for Eilat.]

Upon the death of Hilarion Capucci, a Syrian Catholic bishop convicted by an Israeli martial court of misusing his diplomatic status in 1974 to smuggle weapons to the PLO, Abdeqadar tweeted: “Palestine lost one of its loyal freedom fighters, who fought passionately for the liberty and freedom of palestine(sic) from the Zionist apartheid ugly Israeli occupation.”

On July 19, 2018, Abdelqadar Instagrammed a photo of himself with Tlaib, announcing that her campaign haul had reached the $1 million mark, calling her “the people’s Choice.” As of June, Abdelqader has donated $3,000 to her campaign. Much of her money comes from outside the 13th District.

Tlaib refers to herself as a proud Palestinian-American from an immigrant family of 14. She told a crowd in Paterson, New Jersey, that if elected, she will “wear the traditional Palestinian dress and take my oath of office on the Quran.” She also frequently retweets the posts of Ahmad Abuzbaid, a prominent BDS activist.

Other Democratic primary candidates include State Senator Ian Conyers, as well as Coleman Young II, the son of Detroit’s first black mayor. Brenda Jones, Detroit’s City Council President, has also thrown her hat in the race, as has former State Representative Shanelle Jackson, and Westland Mayor Bill Wild.

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