ADL: Rep. Tlaib’s Tweet Accusing Anti-BDS Bill Supporters of Dual Loyalty Is ‘Deeply Problematic’

January 7, 2019
Screenshot from Twitter.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt released a statement on Monday saying that Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)’s tweet accusing supporters of an anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) bill of dual loyalty is “deeply problematic.”

Tlaib’s Sunday tweet was in response to a tweet from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), which said that the Israel Anti-Boycott Act “punishes Americans who exercise their constitutional right to engage in political activity.”

“They forgot what country they represent,” Tlaib tweeted. “This is the U.S. where boycotting is a right & part of our historical fight for freedom & equality. Maybe a refresher on our U.S. Constitution is in order, then get back to opening up our government instead of taking our rights away.”

Greenblatt said in his statement that Tlaib’s tweet “has been interpreted by some as suggesting that Jews or Members of Congress, such as the sponsors of the bill, are more loyal to Israel than to their own country.”

“Whether or not this was her intent, this type of language is deeply problematic,” Greenblatt said. “Historically, the allegation of mixed loyalty or dual loyalty has been leveled as a smear against many kinds of Americans – including against Americans of Japanese descent during World War II.”

Greenblatt added that the dual loyalty accusation regarding putting Israel above the United States “is long-standing anti-Semitic trope.”

“We reached out to Representative Tlaib’s office to clarify her motive in using this language, and to discuss concerns about the history and context of the allegations of dual loyalty that have been leveled at Jewish Americans at various times in our history,” Greenblatt said. “We have encouraged her to publicly clarify her intent.”

Similarly, the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) tweeted that Tlaib’s tweet is “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.,” JDCA wrote.

Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal in a statement via email, “American Jews don’t need lectures from person publicly calling POTUS motherf**cker.”

“Tlaib should read [the] proposed Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which would broaden existing bans on complying with various foreign boycotts,” Cooper said. “This has never been a First Amendment issue before. Only when it impacts her anti-Zionist worldview.”

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) said in a statement that Tlaib’s tweet “evokes classical anti-Semitic tropes about dual loyalty—in this case applied to some lawmakers who are not even Jewish—that have no place in our political discourse.”

“Ironically, it was Representative Tlaib who took the unusual step of wrapping herself in a foreign flag upon winning election to Congress, and who said she would serve as “a voice for” another nation in the House of Representatives,” the AJC said. “Her ad hominem attack on congressional colleagues joins a growing list of troubling statements by the newly elected member, including her rejection of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. ”

In subsequent tweets, Tlaib said she was simply criticizing senators who are attempting “to strip Americans of their Constitutional right to free speech.”

Lawfare Project executive director Brooke Goldstein and George Mason University Law Professor Eugene Kontorovich are among the legal experts who have argued that the Israel Anti-Boycott Act doesn’t violate the First Amendment.

The bill is reportedly being held up in Congress by Democratic leaders.

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