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The Company Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib Keeps

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Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s first day on the Hill was one that made some waves. The big headline for the media came when she reportedly said “We’re going to impeach the motherf**ker,” at a private event the evening after she was sworn into office.

Her comment, while lacking in class, is not deserving of the media attention it received.  And that focus has led to a far more serious issue being ignored.

The big issue is the company she keeps. On the day Tlaib was sworn in, several of her friends and closest supporters came to Capitol Hill to celebrate with Tlaib. Most of them have long histories of antisemitism which are far more concerning than a curse word.

These guests included:

Rasha Mubarak

Rasha Mubarak, CAIR’s Florida’s Orlando Regional Director and the President of Young Democrats of Orange County (Florida).

In July 2014, CAIR-Florida co-sponsored a pro-Hamas rally held outside the Israeli Consulate in downtown Miami, where rally goers repeatedly shouted, “We are Hamas” and “Let’s go Hamas.” Hamas is a designated terror organization in the U.S. In 2015, CAIR-Florida held an annual fundraising dinner, in Orlando, featuring Chicago-area Imam, Kifah Mustapha as a guest speaker.  Both Mustapha and CAIR were named as co-conspirators by the United States government at the Hamas-fundraising trial of the Holy Land Foundation.

In 2014, during a rally in Orlando, Florida, a man by the name of Said Lufti (Rasha Mubarak’s uncle) was asked on camera about a Hezbollah flag that was being carried at the rally.  Mubarak tried to stop Lufti from talking by saying (in Arabic), “Uncle, don’t talk to them they are Jews.”

 

Huwaida Arraf

Huwaida Arraf, who made an appearance on Tlaib’s first day, is the co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).

ISM has a long history of supporting terrorism. At the 2004 Palestine Solidarity Movement conference, ISM ran a recruitment meeting called Volunteering in Palestine: Role and Value of International Activists. In that session, Huwaida Arraf, acknowledged that ISM cooperates with Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

In 2013, ISM expressed support for Samer Issawi, a terrorist affiliated with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

 

US House Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), (third from right with hand raised) participates in a ceremonial swearing-in from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at the start of the 116th Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 3, 2019. (Photo: SAUL LOEB / AFP / Getty Images)
US House Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), (third from right with hand raised) participates in a ceremonial swearing-in from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at the start of the 116th Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 3, 2019. (Photo: SAUL LOEB / AFP / Getty Images)

Linda Sarsour

Linda Sarsour is a co-founder of the Women’s March organization and she, along with several others co-founders, is currently dealing with criticism due to their relationship with the Nation of Islam (NOI) and its leader, Louis Farrakhan.

In 2015, Sarsour spoke at a NOI event where she attacked Israel. Last year, Sarsour sat on an anti-Semitism panel where she accused the “Jewish media” of ruining her reputation and claimed  Farrakhan was not an “existential threat to the Jewish community”

Farrakhan has a long history of anti-Semitic, anti-American, anti-white and conspiracy-filled preaching. Farrakhan regularly calls Jews “satanic” and claims that they “control everything and mostly everybody.” The anti-Semitic rhetoric used by the Pittsburgh shooter mirrored that of Farrakhan.

Sarsour has a long history of ties to radicalism and inflammatory remarks directed at the Jewish community.

Sarsour supports the discriminatory and terror-tied Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement against Israel and claimed, “Nothing is creepier” than Zionism. She has also discounted anti-Semitism, saying, “While anti-Semitism is something that impacts Jewish Americans, it’s different than anti-black racism or Islamophobia because it’s not systemic.” Sarsour even playfully jokes around with a known anti-Semite, and open Hezbollah supporter, on Twitter about the legitimacy of the Jewish people’s connection to Israel.

 

Amer Zahr

Amer Zahr is a law professor, activist, and stand-up comedian.  Zahr is responsible for the Post-It note erasing Israel that made, on the world map in Tlaib’s office.

Petty antics aside, Zahr‘s views and associations should be cause for concern.  Zahr’s Facebook header photo features him proudly serenading noted PFLP terrorist, Rasmea Odeh.

Zahr likes to compare Israel to ISIS and describes the Jews of Israel as white supremacists.

Zahr has been heavily involved with the group Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, an activist group opposes Israel’s right to exist and run by anti-Semite and proud Hezbollah supporter, Abbas Hamideh.

Hamideh regularly praises Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and claims Jews have no history in Israel.

Zahr is a feature of Al-Awda events, where he is regular speaker and provides entertainment at the end of Al Awda events.

Additionally, both Mubarak and Sarsour have also been involved with Al Awda in the past. In November 2014, Mubarak was a featured speaker at the Al-Awda 12th Annual International Convention, held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Sarsour attended numerous rallies sponsored by Al-Awda, promoted and solicited donations for their events and spoke at their rallies. While having distanced herself a bit from Al-Awda, she has never renounced the organization.

 

Does Tlaib have any ties to Abbas Hamideh and the organization Al Awda?

In August 2018, the left-wing group, J Street officially withdrew its support for Tlaib. Its initial endorsement came about after an extensive vetting process, which included personal interviews.  J Street requires support for a two-state solution and opposition to BDS in order to grant its endorsement. It withdrew its support after she publicly endorsed a one-state solution, as well as the BDS Movement against Israel.

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 boasting about how “close” he was with members of her family.

These are the people within Tlaib’s inner circle. They are people to whom Tlaib reaches out for support and who can reach her without having to go through staff.

In the days following her swearing in, Tlaib wasted no time using anti-Semitic rhetoric to describe supporters of the bill opposing BDS of holding duel loyalties, stating the supporters “forgot what country they represent.”

As a freshman Congresswoman, Tlaib does not have much influence. Her bills will likely die before they hit the hopper. However, she will have years to join caucuses, make friends with her fellow members of Congress and bring the antisemitism of her inner circle to Capitol Hill.

 

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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.