Tlaib under fire from Dems for ‘dual loyalty’ charge
Congresswoman-elect Rashida Tlaib (Facebook)
A week into her first term in Congress, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) faces criticism from fellow Democrats for suggesting that members of Congress supporting pro-Israel legislation may not put their own country’s interests first, but instead are more loyal to Israel. “They forgot what country they represent,” Tlaib tweeted on January 6.
“Questioning the loyalty of Members of Congress or suggesting dual loyalty is unfair, and it is dangerous,” Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) told Jewish Insider. “We all swear an oath to the Constitution. And just as we fight for freedom and equality, we also have the right to defend one of our closest allies against efforts to isolate them and damage any prospects for peace through a two-state solution.”
On Sunday, Democratic Senators had urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to not consider any bills, including a cloture vote for newly-introduced pro-Israel legislation, until the partial government shutdown ends. The legislation, Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019, would authorize U.S. military assistance to Israel and empower anti-BDS legislation at the local level.
In her tweet, Tlaib also charged that supporters of the pro-Israel package should take “a refresher on our U.S. Constitution” and “then get back to opening up our government instead of taking our rights away.” Tlaib echoes the concern of some detractors of the bill, in particular, that it infringes on first amendment rights.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) responded via Twitter to Tlaib’s argument: “If boycotting Israel is constitutionally protected, then boycotting companies that boycott Israel is also constitutionally protected.” In the same tweet, he also commented that “this ‘dual loyalty’ canard is a typical anti-Semitic line.”
Representative Lee Zeldin (R-NY) replied to Tlaib’s implication of dual loyalty in an email to Jewish Insider, “That’s pretty rich that someone who literally wore a Palestinian flag at her victory party is lecturing about dual loyalty.” He later tweeted the same remark.
“We oppose your charge of dual loyalty” the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) tweeted to Tlaib on Monday. “It’s wrong, dangerous, and hurts the cause of peace. Whether one supports a particular bill or not, it’s offensive to insinuate that senators would be driven by anything other than the best interests of the U.S.”
According to ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, Tlaib’s language is “deeply problematic” in the wake of a troubling rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. and across the globe. “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 anti-Semitism,” Greenblatt said in a statement. “It is a long-standing anti-Semitic trope connected to the idea that Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own country, or that U.S. legislators — for some conspiratorial reason — are more concerned about issues related to Israel than U.S. national interest.”