Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib has been strongly criticized by Jewish American leaders for comments she made about unnamed people “behind the curtain” exploiting “the rest of us.” The comments were widely perceived to be antisemitic dog whistles, the Times of Israel reported.
Tlaib made the remarks on a video conference for the Democratic Socialists of America’s national convention. She said, “As I think about my family in Palestine, that continue to live under military occupation and how that really interacts with this beautiful Black city I grew up in, you know I always tell people cutting people off from water is violence, and they do it from Gaza to Detroit.”
“I know you all understand the structure we’ve been living under right now is designed by those that exploit the rest of us, for their own profit … I don’t care if it’s the issue around global human rights and our fight to free Palestine.”
“And I tell people: those same people, if you open the curtain and look behind the curtain, it’s the same people that make money, and yes they do — off of racism, off of these broken policies, there is someone there making money.”
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt condemned the remarks. “We’ve heard this kind of ugly antisemitic dog-whistling before, but it’s appalling when it comes from a member of Congress,” he wrote on Twitter, where video of her speech was widely circulated.
The Conference of Presidents said in a statement that Tlaib “described a shadowy force acting behind the curtains in both places and around the world, controlling a system which is ‘designed by those who exploit the rest of us, for their own profit.’ Through her pointing to the tensions between Israel and Gaza, and saying that ‘they do it from Gaza to Detroit,’ it is clear that Rep. Tlaib is suggesting that the Jews are the uniting factor.
“We condemn these harmful, inflammatory remarks and urge those who are influential in every field to join in holding those who traffic in antisemitism accountable.”
Tlaib does not believe Israel should exist as a Jewish state and that there should be one country for both Jews and Palestinians. She supports BDS.