Leading Jewish groups in the U.S. denounced a tweet by Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) on legislation against boycotts of Israel and the settlements. Critics say that Tlaib's tweet implies that these senators have “dual loyalty” to the U.S. and Israel.
Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman elected to congress, wrote that the senators who are promoting the legislation “forgot what country they represent. This is the U.S. where boycotting is a right.”
The Anti-Defamation League released a statement in response to Tlaib’s tweet: “Representative Tlaib's tweet regarding the pending bill on the Senate floor has been interpreted by some as suggesting that Jews or Members of Congress, such as the sponsors of the bill, are more loyal to Israel than to their own country,” the organization said. “Whether or not this was her intent, this type of language is deeply problematic."
The statement also noted that, “historically, the allegation of mixed loyalty or dual loyalty has been leveled as a smear against many kinds of Americans – including against Americans of Japanese descent during World War II. Though the legislation discussed is sponsored by four non-Jewish Senators, any charge of dual loyalty has special sensitivity and resonance for Jews, particularly in an environment of rising anti-Semitism."
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The Jewish Democratic Council of America also denounced Tlaib, writing in a tweet: “We oppose your charge of dual loyalty. It's wrong, dangerous, and hurts the cause of peace. Whether one supports a particular bill or not, it's offensive to insinuate that senators would be driven by anything other than the best interests of the U.S.”
The group’s tweet drew a rare expression of support from the head of the Republican Jewish Coalition. The Jewish Democratic Coalition and the ADL have both been vocal critics of the Trump administration over the past two years.
Tlaib was also criticized by the American Jewish Committee, although the organization’s response was controversial. The AJC tweeted a picture of Tlaib hugging a person wrapped in a Palestinian flag and wrote - “Tell us more about dual loyalty."
In reply, commentators and journalists asked if the AJC would hold the same standard for someone who had hugged a person wearing an Israeli flag.
In a subsequent tweet, AJC wrote that “it’s outrageous to imply dual loyalty because you disagree with a policy initiative.”
Republican Senators Marco Rubio and James Risch last week introduced the first bill to be considered in the Republican-led Senate, consolidating four bills that languished in the last Congress: One codifies into law $38 billion in defense assistance for Israel over 10 years; another protects states that pass laws targeting the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, including states that ban contracts with Israel boycotters. Civil libertarians have decried the laws as infringing on free speech.
The bill’s other two provisions strengthen the U.S.-Jordan relationship and enhance sanctions against Syria’s Assad regime.