An organizer behind a 2020 fundraiser for Representative Cori Bush (D-MO) is under fire for some of her past tweets, including some expressing a desire to burn down Israel.
The Washington Free Beacon reported that, according to the Canary Mission watchdog, Neveen Ayesh––who works with American Muslims for Palestine––tweeted in 2014 that she wished “to set Israel on fire with my own hands & watch it burn to ashes along with every Israeli in it.” She reiterated that desire in another tweet a month later. Other tweets highlighted in the Free Beacon report included a 2011 tweet stating that one of the “crimes worthy of the rope” is “being a Jew,” a 2017 tweet comparing Zionism to Nazism, and a February 2022 tweet arguing that those who argue “but Hamas” are “encouraging armed resistance by Ukrainian citizens (who are rising up against their oppressors) but somehow have an issue when Palestinians do the same.” Some of these tweets were discussed during a May 2020 hearing in the Missouri House of Representatives about the state’s anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) bill.
SHOCKING New Video! @ampalestine 's Neveen Ayesh testifies in front of the Missouri House of Representatives in support of BDS and gets CAUGHT in her LIES! A must see and SHARE! pic.twitter.com/QlLTXAqDSr
— Canary Mission (@canarymission) July 14, 2020
Ayesh and Bush were pictured together during both the 2020 fundraiser as well as a 2017 Middle East trip, per the Free Beacon. Additionally, Canary Mission noted that Ayesh recently advertised a July 16 reception with Bush with the St. Louis Muslim community. “On Saturday, Bush will benefit from another of Ayesh’s fundraisers,” the watchdog wrote. “Congresswoman Bush, if you don’t condemn Ayesh, you condone her antisemitic views.”
So far, no response from @CoriBush to our disclosure that her close ALLY & FUNDRAISER @neveen___a is an unrepentant antisemite. On Saturday, Bush will benefit from another of Ayesh's fundraisers. Congresswoman Bush, if you don't condemn Ayesh, you condone her antisemitic views. https://t.co/D1GWOy2rnb
— Canary Mission (@canarymission) July 13, 2022
Associated Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper said in a statement to the Journal, “What part of this antisemitic activist did Rep Bush not know about? Her wish to see Israel and the world’s largest Jewish community to burn and reduced to ashes? Her support for Hamas terrorism? Do these sentiments reflect Cory Bush’s world view? If not, say so and return the money.”
Missouri State Senator Steve Roberts, who is challenging Bush in the Democratic primary for the Missouri congressional seat, wrote in an open letter on his campaign website that he used to “briefly date” Ayesh “before I knew of her extreme political beliefs. After a period of getting to know each other, her views became clear to me and – unlike Cori Bush – I chose to reject hate and walk away. I recognized that because I had been uninformed, I was vulnerable. As a Black man who has personally experienced bigotry, I realized that to truly be a community leader who stands for justice and against hate, I needed to learn much more about antisemitism and become active in the fight against it.” Ayesh claimed to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the two “lived together for two years” before breaking up when “he cheated on me.” Ayesh also shared a photo with the Post-Dispatch purportedly showing Roberts wearing an Israel-shaped pendant stating “Palestine” in Arabic and noted that as a state senator, Roberts voted against the state’s anti-BDS law (the Post-Dispatch noted that a campaign spokesperson said Roberts “regrets his ‘no’ vote”). Ayesh claimed Roberts was “using my identity as a Palestinian to attack me … And make himself look good in front of the Israeli lobby.” She also tweeted that she’ll be “seeing [Roberts] in court” in response to his statement, per the Post-Dispatch. Separately, Roberts has faced sexual assault allegations from two women; he has denied the allegations.
“The allegations of antisemitism that have stained the Democratic primary in Missouri’s 1st Congressional District are disheartening,” Stop Antisemitism Executive Director Liora Rez said in a statement to the Journal. “The unequivocal rejection of antisemitism is exactly what we should expect from anyone seeking or occupying public office.” The Free Beacon noted that “while Bush has publicly condemned attacks on the Jewish community, her relationship with Ayesh and other anti-Israel activists is drawing accusations that these statements are empty rhetoric.”
Ayesh addressed the prior tweets in a July 13 Twitter thread. “I want to take ownership and acknowledge how horrendous the context of those tweets actually are,” she wrote. “I was young, dumb, & said horrible things that I never acted on, that I never would act on, because I am not that person. My words came from a place of both pain & anger. I grew up under occupation & spent the rest of my life watching it. Before I moved back to America, the only interaction I ever had with a Jewish person was through the IDF. By default, resentment grew. I was and still am a product of my environment. After moving back to the United States a lot changed in my life. I went to college. I met Jewish people in settings outside of the soldier pointing his rifle at me.” She added that the tweets in question were sent “after chaos occurred back home. Chaos that resulted in a lot of blood shed & loss. Chaos that no one seemed to – and still does not – care about because we’re brown. Muslims and Christian’s alike but we’re brown and Palestinian Arab.” Ayesh concluded her thread by accusing Canary Mission of attacking Bush because she’s “a voice for the voiceless.” Since then, her Twitter account no longer seems to exist.
Canary Mission responded to Ayesh’s explanation by telling the Journal: “After 8 years researching antisemitism, Canary Mission has observed this same journey with many of the antisemites we profile. The antisemitism usually starts with raw hatred e.g. Jews should be killed, burned or something equally horrid. Antisemites justify their hatred by blaming Israel. In times of conflict, violent language against Jews becomes suddenly acceptable.” They added that antisemites “are taught ‘how to assign academic terminology.’ They stop using ‘Jews’ and start saying ‘Zionists’ for one simple reason. If you replace ‘Jews’ with ‘Zionists’ or ‘Israelis’, it becomes socially acceptable to denigrate them.” Therefore, Ayesh’s “non-apology doesn’t work,” Canary Mission said.
Bush’s campaign did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.