Rep. Rashida Tlaib said people cannot call themselves progressive while supporting Israel’s “apartheid government” in a fiery claim during a virtual Palestine advocacy conference Tuesday.
“I want you all to know that among progressives, it has become clear that you cannot claim to hold progressive values, yet back Israel’s apartheid government,” Tlaib said during the livestreamed “Palestine Advocacy Day” conference, organized by Americans for Justice in Palestine Action.
“We will continue to push back and not accept this idea that you are progressive, except for ‘Philistine,’ any longer.”
The Michigan Democrat also said that Palestine should be granted freedom from Israel.
“When we center our beliefs and our actions on the truth… that every person deserves to live free of fear and have the opportunity to achieve their full potential, the need to oppose Israel’s government’s apartheid rule is obvious,” she added.
“The path to freedom for Palestine is long and daunting, we must see through to its end. We owe it to not only Palestinians, but oppressed people all over the world who understand that our struggles are linked to one another.”
Tlaib, the only Palestinian-American in Congress, has repeatedly condemned Israel’s “apartheid” — stoking accusations of anti-Semitism from Republicans and alienating some of her Democratic colleagues in the process.
Her statement about progressives needing to oppose Israel Tuesday once again set off a firestorm among her own party members.
“I fundamentally reject the notion that one cannot support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state and be a progressive,” Rep. Jerry Nalder, who is Jewish himself, tweeted in response to The Jerusalem Post’s story on Tlaib’s comments.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz blasted Tlaib’s statements as outright anti-Semitic and called out her Democratic colleague by name.
“The outrageous progressive litmus test on Israel by @RashidaTlaib is nothing short of antisemitic,” Wasserman Schultz said in a tweet. “Proud progressives do support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state. Suggesting otherwise is shameful and dangerous. Divisive rhetoric does not lead to peace.”
Another left-leaning congressmember, Rep. Ritchie Torres denounced Tlaib’s claims.
“There’s nothing progressive about advocating for the end of Israel as a Jewish State,” said Torres, who counts himself a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “Nothing progressive about opposing the Abraham Accords, which promotes peace. Nothing progressive about opposing Iron Dome, which protects civilians from indiscriminate rocket fire.”
Rep. Grace Meng called the comments “divisive.”
“Jews are the most targeted religious community in the United States,” Meng tweeted. “Divisive language is never acceptable, especially at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise. People can absolutely hold progressive values and support Israel’s right to exist.”