Sen. Peters slams terror-linked conference Rep. Tlaib addressed: ‘There is no place for violent rhetoric’

Tlaib spoke alongside guests who advocated for violence against Israel and those who defended the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, in front of Congress in Washington D.C., United States on May 8, 2024. (Photo by Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) distanced himself from Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s (D-MI) appearance at the People’s Conference for Palestine, where pro-terror messages were celebrated and an activist with ties to a group designated by the U.S. as a foreign terrorist organization was welcomed. 

Peters’ office told Jewish Insider in a statement on Wednesday that Michigan’s soon-to-be senior senator “understands how personal the issues around the war between Israel and Hamas are for Michiganders and believes that individuals have the right to gather and advocate for their personal beliefs. However, he believes that there is no place for violent rhetoric or advocacy of violence in these discussions.”

“As Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Senator Peters is also concerned that foreign adversaries, like the Chinese and Russian governments, have and will continue to try to exploit divisions within U.S. domestic politics to sow chaos, something our nation’s intelligence officials have warned about. He urges Michiganders to be attentive to such potential interventions by foreign actors and organizations,” the statement concluded. 

The conference was organized by The People’s Forum, a far-left advocacy group funded largely by Neville Roy Singham, a businessman with ties to the Chinese Communist Party and a long history of donating to Marxist and socialist causes. 

Wisam Rafeedie, an activist with ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which is designated in the U.S. as a terrorist organization, was a guest at the event. Sana’ Daqqah, the widow of Walid Daqqah, the PFLP terrorist who was lionized in the Palestinian community for dying in an Israeli prison, was the keynote speaker. 

Attendees took part in chants of “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,”, and “We want justice, you say how? End the siege on Gaza now,” in between speeches and discussions on “Confronting Zionism in Higher Education” and “Zionism and U.S. Imperialism.”

Palestinian activist Tara Alami, who spoke on one of the panels, advocated for using violence against Israel as a form of resistance and praised Iran’s recent drone strikes. Palestinian writer Abdaljawad Omar outright described terrorism as “armed resistance,” while activist Sarah Abdelshamy praised the Oct. 7 attack as successful in the “protracted people’s war of liberation.” Ashraf Hazayen, an analyst with the Palestinian Youth Movement, praised armed groups like Hamas for carrying out Oct. 7 on behalf of Palestinians. 

“We in the Palestinian Youth Movement see that a really important part of our role in the diaspora is internationalizing the popular cradle, that is, mirroring the popular support for Palestinian resistance that we see in Palestine across our organizing efforts in the diaspora,” Hazayen said. “The Zionist project neglects a crucial fact – that the al-Aqsa Flood [Oct. 7] was waged for and because of the people of Gaza and the Palestinian people as a whole.”

In her remarks, Tlaib accused President Joe Biden of being complicit in what she described as a “genocide” in Gaza and doing the bidding of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who she referred to as a “murderous war criminal.”

“President Biden says what’s happening [in Gaza] is not a genocide. Where is your red line, President Biden?” Tlaib told the crowd. “This is not even consistent with his own views on international law in the past where he’d sit there and said [Russian President Vladimir] Putin must be held accountable at the International Criminal Court.” 

She also criticized Biden for “attacking the authority” of the court, referring to the president’s vocal condemnation of the ICC over a prosecutor’s decision to seek arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, something that has earned bipartisan support behind the scenes. 

“President Biden, I hope you hear us loud and clear. Attacking the authority of the International Criminal Court and interfering in the legal process is nothing more than an attempt to prevent the genocidal maniac Netanyahu and senior Israeli officials from being held accountable for their crimes against humanity,” Tlaib said.

Tlaib’s office did not respond to JI’s request for comment.

Tlaib represents the Detroit and Dearborn areas, home to one of the largest Arab American populations in the country. The far-left lawmaker is one of the loudest anti-Israel voices in Congress, consistently voting against any bills or resolutions supporting Israel or condemning antisemitism. 

In the weeks after Oct. 7, Tlaib refused to stop using the phrase “from the river, to the sea.” She maintains that the slogan is an “aspirational” phrase for Palestinians. That refusal prompted 22 of her House Democratic colleagues to join Republicans in voting to censure her.

JI reached out to every Democratic member of Michigan’s Congressional delegation — including retiring Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) — for comment on Tlaib’s appearance at the conference. Only Peters and Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI) responded; the latter of whom focused her statement on Tlaib’s remarks targeting Biden.

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