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‘Simply Islamophobic’: Rights group slams ‘Democratic’ attacks on Rashida Tlaib

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib speaks at a press conference on July 18, 2022 in Washington DC. (File photo by AFP)

A leading Muslim rights organization in the United States has slammed “Islamophobic attacks” on Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib which came after she said supporting the “apartheid” Israeli regime is incompatible with progressive values.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in a statement on Thursday called on all Democratic offices in the US House of Representatives to “not to engage in dishonest, Islamophobic attacks” on Tlaib for her stance.

“Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Presbyterian Church USA, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, have all recently recognized that the Israeli government’s decades-long human rights abuses against the Palestinian people, including physical segregation and different laws based on race, constitute a system of apartheid,” CAIR said.

The statement further referred to the Israeli army’s murdering of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and pointed out that the regime in Tel Aviv has already declared that it would not launch a criminal investigation into the deliberate killing.

“The only reason for ignoring this murder, which was caught on camera, is that this American citizen was a Palestinian,” it said.

“Yet instead of calling on the Israeli government to uphold human rights, several House Democrats have spent the past week engaging in bad-faith attacks against the only Palestinian-American Muslim woman in Congress, simply because she reminded her colleagues that apartheid as a system of governance will forever remain incompatible with democratic values.”

Progressive vs. pro-Israel

Tlaib told an online Palestine advocacy event on Tuesday: “I want you all to know that among progressives, it becomes clear that you cannot claim to hold progressive values yet back Israel‘s apartheid government.”

Tlaib, a Palestinian American, has repeatedly called for accountability in the case of the Israeli army’s killing of Abu Akleh and pressed for a US-backed probe.

Abu Akleh’s killing “opened the eyes of many of my colleagues and countless decent people around the world to the brutal reality of living under apartheid Israel,” she said in her Tuesday speech.

“It’s nothing short of outrageous that our government continues to refuse to hold Israel accountable for these killings.”

Her remarks were harshly criticized by fellow Democrats in Congress, with the former head of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, charging that it was “shameful and dangerous” for Tlaib to make those remarks.

“The outrageous progressive litmus test on Israel by [Tlaib] is nothing short of antisemitic,” tweeted Wasserman Schultz.

She added: “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.”

Silencing critics of Israel as ‘anti-semitic’

Democratic Congressmen Jerry Nadler and Ritchie Torres, among others, also piled on, censuring Tlaib’s criticism as offensive.

“I fundamentally reject the notion that one cannot support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state and be a progressive,” Nadler wrote in a tweet.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said via Twitter: “In one sentence, [Tlaib] simultaneously tells American Jews that they need to pass an anti-Zionist litmus test to participate in progressive spaces even as she doubles down on her #antisemitism by slandering Israel as an apartheid state.”

“It’s absolutely reprehensible and does nothing to advance the cause of peace. We call on people of good will and leaders across the political spectrum to make clear that such #antisemitism will not be tolerated,” he added.

CAIR, however, said the claim that Tlaib said something anti-semitic is a blatant and dangerous lie, elaborating that this is not the first time that members of the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives have leaped to the worst possible interpretation of what one of their Muslim colleagues said.

“This is simply Islamophobic,” it said. “The fact that this scenario has occurred with such frequency over the past several years points to the need for Democrats in Congress to address the issue of Islamophobia within their own ranks. The marginalization and silencing of elected Muslims and Arabs who speak the truth to their lived experiences is discriminatory and incompatible with democratic values.”

Abu Akleh was shot in the head and killed by the Israeli army forces on May 11 while she was covering their raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. At the time of her killing, the 51-year-old journalist was wearing easily-recognizable press attire.

In a recent joint investigation, Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq and London-based research group Forensic Architecture concluded that Abu Akleh was intentionally targeted by Israeli troops, dismissing the Israeli regime’s account that the killing was unintentional.

The findings come as Abu Akleh’s family submitted an official complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to demand justice for her cold-blooded murder.

Earlier this month, the Israeli military admitted that there was a “high possibility” Abu Akleh was killed by its troops, but concluded that it was an accident and said it would open no criminal investigation into the brutal killing.

Shatha Hanaysha, a Palestinian journalist who was beside Abu Akleh when she was killed, recounted the harrowing incident in an exclusive interview with Press TV, during which she said, “I still cannot fathom why it happened, why Shireen was killed, why they tried to kill us.”

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