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Rep. Rashida Tlaib Fetes Hezbollah Supporter

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Congresswomen Rahida Tlaib in the Capitol building (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Congresswomen Rahida Tlaib in the Capitol building (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Following a swearing-in ceremony in Detroit, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib hosted a private dinner for close friends and family. One of her guests was Abbas Hamideh, an anti-Semite and supporter of Hezbollah, one of the world’s most powerful terrorist organizations.

Meanwhile, while Tlaib was feting Hamideh, the U.S. government was busy ramping up pressure on Lebanon to clamp down on Hezbollah.

Hamideh is one of the founders of Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, an anti-Israel group that regularly vilifies Israel and opposes its right to exist. Hamideh regularly praises Hezbollah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah. He also claims Jews have no history in Israel and that the Jews should “go back to Brooklyn.”

Clarion Project recently highlighted Tlaib’s connection to a variety of hateful anti-Semites, including Hamideh, as well as his role in Tlaib’s public flip-flop regarding her stance on the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, writing:

Why did Tlaib publicly reverse the policy stances, which she claimed to support? Hamideh is taking credit for Tlaib’s reversal.

On August 8 2018, Hamideh publicly backed Tlaib. Following his endorsement, Electronic Intifada reported on J Street’s endorsement. This news did not sit well for people in Hamideh’s activist circles, so Hamideh assured supporters he “would get to the bottom” of this matter and boasted she was just a phone call or “perhaps a personal meeting” away.  Shortly after, Tlaib was upset on Facebook that Hamideh was trying to define who she was and where she stood and accused him of ‘attacking’ her and her friends.

Tlaib later went public with her reversal of her policy stances. Hamideh expressed his continued support and seemed distressed at the accusation that he was “attacking” Tlaib and boasted about how ‘close’ he was with members of her family.

Up until Tlaib’s private dinner, it seemed Tlaib was angry at Hamideh. However, it now appears that Hamideh is back in Tlaib’s good graces.

This raises the question of how much influence will Hamideh have with Tlaib going forward?

It also raises the question of why a member of Congress is supporting someone who supports a terror organization. Just this week, amid feverish American diplomatic activity surrounding Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Middle East visit, Washington is urging Lebanon to do what it can to disrupt Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

The terror organization has a big say in the political life of Lebanon. Undersecretary David Hale expressed U.S. concerns during meetings in Beirut over the weekend. A statement from the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon ahead of Hale’s visit made the point clear:

“Hale will also underscore U.S. concerns about Hizballah’s destabilizing activities in Lebanon and the region, including the recent discovery of Hizballah’s cross-border tunnels [into Israel], which defy UN Security Council Resolution 1701, jeopardize the security of the Lebanese people, and undermine the legitimacy of Lebanon’s state institutions.”

American officials have long objected to Hezbollah’s aggression, expansionist operations and its reported 150,000 missiles and rockets, making it the second-strongest military in the Middle East. Now, the State Department and other arms of government believe Hezbollah poses a threat much closer to home, controlling drugs, arms and other activities in Latin America.

Iranian-backed terror cells in the U.S.  pose “a direct threat to the homeland.” That was the conclusion of Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.) after hearing from a panel of intelligence experts testifying before the House subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence, The Washington Free Beacon reported last year.

 

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Alex VanNess

Alex VanNess is a research analyst for the Clarion Intelligence Network. He formerly served as a fellow at the Endowment for Middle East Truth, as director of the Middle East Peace and Security Project for the Center for Security Policy and as a staffer on Capitol Hill.

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