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January 7, 2019 5:24 pm

New Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib Condemned for Deploying ‘Dual Loyalty’ Antisemitic Canard in Twitter Attack on Middle East Bill

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Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib embraces House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the first session of the US Congress in 2019. Photo: Reuters / Jonathan Ernst.

Newly-elected Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib came under fire on Monday for tweeting that fellow legislators who supported a bill to strengthen US security measures in the Middle East “forgot what country they represent” — invoking, in the eyes of many observers, the classic antisemitic canard that Jews care only for their own community and the State of Israel, and not the countries in which they reside as loyal citizens.

Tlaib was commenting on an earlier tweet from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) complaining that the first bill during the current US government shutdown “is legislation which punishes Americans who exercise their constitutional right to engage in political activity.” Sanders was referring to those parts of the bill — primarily focused on measures enhancing security cooperation between the US, Israel and Jordan, as well as prosecuting war crimes committed by the Assad regime against its own citizens in Syria — that would penalize the implementation of economic and commercial boycotts targeting Israel.

Tlaib responded by introducing the “dual loyalty” accusation — leveled against Jews or those perceived as Jews across several centuries, often with devastating consequences — to make the point that “boycotting is a right.”

On of Tlaib’s thousands of respondents noted that while he, too, disagreed with the bill, he was nonetheless shocked by her casual display of antisemitism.

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) responded by showing a photo of Tlaib hugging a supporter draped in the Palestinian flag — a cause that Tlaib, a supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign (BDS), has promised to champion in Congress.

In a statement, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said, “Though the legislation discussed is sponsored by four non-Jewish Senators, any charge of dual loyalty has special sensitivity and resonance for Jews, particularly in an environment of rising antisemitism.”

Greenblatt continued: “It is a long-standing antisemitic trope connected to the idea that Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own country, or that US legislators — for some conspiratorial reason — are more concerned about issues related to Israel than US national interest.”

The former national director of the ADL, Abraham Foxman, asked why Tlaib had so far been spared the “bipartisan outrage” her remark deserved.

In an email exchange with The Algemeiner on Monday, Foxman –- who now heads a center for the study of antisemitism at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York — highlighted the broader context in which Tlaib made her statement.

“It seems that criticism of the anti-BDS legislation by Sen. Sanders and Jeremy Ben-Ami [president of the left-wing group J Street] may have helped legitimize the congresswoman’s outrageous statement,” Foxman said.

Another commenter reminded Tlaib that the right to use boycotts as an instrument of political pressure applied only within the borders of the US.

The “dual loyalty” canard is similarly un-American, having originally emerged as one of the key tropes of modern European antisemitism. The stereotype of Jews as inherently disloyal famously helped to falsely convict the French Jewish army officer, Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, of treason in 1894, while the denunciation of Jewish communists as “rootless cosmopolitans” without national loyalty symbolized the rise of antisemitism in the Soviet Union under Stalin.

Over the last decade, the trope has become a firmly established favorite of both the far-left and far-right on social media. Indeed, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke also took to Twitter on Monday to make a point not dissimilar from Tlaib’s about the Middle East bill.

 

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