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Less than a week after issuing a profanity-infused call to impeach President Trump on her first day in office, Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib is under fire from Republican politicians and commentators for openly posting what they call an anti-Semitic dog whistle on Twitter.
Top Republicans in the Senate are also alleging that Democratic leaders are hoping to hide the fact that Tlaib is just one of many new Democratic politicians in Congress who harbor deeply anti-Israel views.
Tlaib, responding to a post by Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday, suggested that Senate Republicans were more loyal to Israel than the U.S., amid a report that GOP leaders were planning to introduce a bill that would punish companies that participate in the so-called “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” (BDS) global movement against Israel. BDS proponents seek to pressure Israel through economic and other means — often, until Israel ceases to exist in its current form.
“They forgot what country they represent,” Tlaib, a Palestinian-American who made history last week by becoming one of the first two Muslim women to ever serve in Congress, wrote.
“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,” she added.
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, one of the Republican senators to introduce the anti-BDS bill, immediately called Tlaib’s post an “anti-Semitic line” that perpetuates a longstanding “dual loyalty” conspiracy that holds that Israel effectively controls Washington politicians.
The accusation that Jewish politicians could be vulnerable to having “dual loyalties” has been made for centuries in various contexts, and has been seen widely as a religious-based attack intent on undermining their leadership.
The posts by Sanders and Tlaib specifically criticized Senate Republicans for planning to introduce the “Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019,” a pro-Israel series of bills, instead of legislation to end the ongoing partial federal government shutdown, which entered its 17th day on Monday.
The package of legislation includes provisions reauthorizing the United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act of 2015, and providing for new sanctions against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.
One of the bills in the package, the Rubio-Manchin Combating BDS Act of 2018, also would “increase protections for state and local governments in the United States that decide to divest from, prohibit investment in, and restrict contracting with companies knowingly engaged in commerce-related or investment-related BDS activity targeting Israel,” according to Senate Republicans.
Critics have charged that the bill amounts to an unconstitutional First Amendment violation, because it involves an impermissible government punishment of speech based on its content. (Similar laws restricting boycotts of Israel have been ruled unconstitutional.)