Rashida Tlaib Dismisses Republican Colleague's Israeli Flag 'Publicity Stunt'

Palestinian American congresswoman says she is 'focused on solving issues' for her constituents, while progressive Jewish groups decry 'juvenile trolling' and argue the 'flag of Israel is not a weapon for political wars'

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Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib knocks on doors to encourage residents to vote in the upcoming presidential elections in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., October 18, 2020.
Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib knocks on doors to encourage residents to vote in the upcoming presidential elections in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., October 18, 2020.Credit: REBECCA COOK/ REUTERS

WASHINGTON – Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib dismissed on Thursday a statement by a new Republican member of Congress who has an office in proximity to Tlaib’s and has promised to place an Israeli flag at the entrance to her office in order to provoke the Palestinian American lawmaker.

Rep. Kat Cammack, a first-term congresswoman from Florida, said earlier this week that Tlaib "has some strong opinions about Israel that I disagree with, so I’ve made a pledge to plant Israel’s flag outside my door right next to the American flag. I think it’ll be very helpful as she walks past both every day."

The response from Tlaib’s side was to treat the new member’s promise as a useless provocation. “Congressional members were elected to take on pressing issues impacting their constituents, not publicity stunts,” a spokesperson for Tlaib's office told Haaretz in response to Cammack's comments. "Rep. Tlaib is focused on solving issues and showing up for her constituents. One can only hope that Rep. Cammack will do the same"

Cammack's office declined to provide further comment.

J Street Director Jeremy Ben-Ami said in response to Cammack that "the flag of Israel is not a weapon for your political wars. No one party or political persuasion has ownership rights over the flag which should represent a nation state and not a set of opinions."

“Cammack's juvenile trolling of one of her colleagues is emblematic of the ignorant hatred that defines the Republican Party today," progressive Jewish organization ifNotNow said in response. "Before she takes any further action in Congress regarding the Middle East, we encourage Rep. Cammack to actually visit the West Bank and witness the ways that American tax dollars are used to destroy Palestinian homes and jail Palestinian children.”

Tlaib, entering her second term representing her Michigan district, is one of four progressive congresswomen of color known as "the squad." She has been at the forefront of a wave of criticism of the Israeli government, including calling on the U.S. government to condition military aid to Israel.

She has become a frequent target of the right due to her support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, and was banned by the Israeli government in August 2019 from visiting Israel and the West Bank due to her BDS stance. Israel reversed course and permitted Tlaib, whose grandmother lives in the West Bank, to visit on humanitarian grounds. Tlaib rejected the offer, however, saying that Israel had imposed restrictions meant to humiliate her.

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