House Democrats react to Tlaib’s refusal to accept U.S., Israeli assessment of Gaza hospital blast

Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC) called out the Michigan Democrat: ‘I think it’s irresponsible and I think it foments antisemitism.’

ALI KHALIGH/Middle East Images/AFP via Getty Images

Rep. Rashida Tlaib

Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s (D-MI) refusal to retract discredited accusations that Israel was responsible for an explosion at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza were met on Tuesday with mixed reactions from some of her Democratic colleagues.

In a statement on Monday, Tlaib said that she “cannot uncritically accept Israel’s denials of responsibility as fact” and that “the Israeli and United States governments have long, documented histories of misleading the public about wars and war crimes… and cannot clear themselves of responsibility without an independent international investigation.” 

The U.S., Israel, other allied governments and major international news outlets have come to similar conclusions that the explosion was likely the result of a misfiring rocket from a Palestinian terrorist group.

Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC), a prominent pro-Israel Jewish Democrat, told Jewish Insider that it’s “appalling that a member of Congress does not trust her own government intelligence.”

“I think what that says is she doesn’t like the answer that she’s getting and so she will reject it,” Manning continued. “I think it’s irresponsible and I think it foments antisemitism.”

Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), another outspoken Jewish Democrat, floated the prospect of censuring Tlaib in a Fox News interview: “once we get a House speaker here, I think that censure resolution will come to the floor and I do think it’s something everyone should consider.”

A spokesperson for Tlaib declined to respond to a series of specific questions from JI about comments from her colleagues and her approach to U.S. intelligence about the explosion, referring back to the Monday statement.

Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA) referred to a 2018 press conference with former President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, when Trump accepted Russia’s denials that it had interfered in the 2016 presidential election over the assessments of U.S. intelligence agencies.

Keating told JI “most of us were shocked at Trump saying we didn’t trust U.S. intelligence. And so it’s concerning, yes.”

“I trust our government. I trust the Canadian government. And I think there are other governments that made their own independent assessments of that… So I’d say that colleague is misinformed,” Keating continued.

Rep. Greg Meeks (D-NY), the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, emphasized that the U.S. and allied governments, media outlets and his own analysis of the evidence indicate that Israel was not responsible, adding that he’s “not going to take the word of Hamas over our intelligence.”

“I’m not going to play the role that Donald Trump played when he believed the Russian intelligence over the US intelligence,” Meeks told JI, invoking the same 2018 press conference.

“I would just then appeal to folks to look at the facts and be judged by the facts,” Meeks told JI, highlighting that some individuals continue to spread and believe conspiracy theories around 9/11 and Jan. 6 in spite of the evidence around those two incidents.

Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA) told JI she believes members of Congress generally “should be extremely cautious in commenting on any type of intel” without actually having been briefed on that information.

“Because we are feeding into a narrative among the American people and people around the world that may be an irresponsible narrative,” Wild said. “Obviously, there’s a lot of differences of opinion here, and she’s entitled to her beliefs about past practices and that kind of thing. I just think we should stay away from commenting on immediate intel about what’s happening in a war zone.”

Other Democrats avoided directly responding to Tlaib.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), who has been outspoken in criticizing media outlets that accepted Hamas’ statements about the hospital bombing in its immediate aftermath, told JI, “to me, it’s very, very clear that it was a terrorist missile that caused the hospital blast and not a missile from Israel.”

But he declined to comment on Tlaib directly: “You’re going to have to ask her,” he said, when pressed.

Rep. Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-CA) told JI that intelligence reports have shown a significant level of misinformation circulating about that attack.

“A lot of bad actors are actively promoting misinformation and disinformation, about that attack, but also about other things going on with this war,” Kamlager-Dove said, without directly addressing the fact that a colleague had promoted this misinformation.

“I think this is a very fluid situation. Things change every day. What we do know is that  people are still being held hostage and innocent lives are still being lost,” she said. “This is a very emotional time for everyone. My goal is to take deep breaths and to continue to get the intelligence to help us navigate a way through this. Because we must identify an end, and have that end in sight.”

Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA) told JI that “all facts we’ve seen suggest that this was not an Israeli strike,” but did not respond directly to Tlaib’s rejection of this assessment.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt warned yesterday that “the lies that [Tlaib] is peddling about Israel… have real consequences against Jews. Her disinformation and gaslighting must stop. Lives are at stake.”

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