The author is an attorney and co-founder of the Coalition for Black and Jewish Unity. This column first appeared in Nu?Detroit, an online publication he co-founded. It's being republished with permission.
By Mark Jacobs
Ealier this month the Detroit Free Press endorsed Rashida Tlaib for re-election to her Congressional seat in the new 12th District. Before reading the endorsement, I had assumed the Free Press would identify a host of reasons why her policy positions align with the paper’s. That’s typically how endorsements work — or so I thought.
But the endorsement never mentioned a single policy position of Congresswoman Tlaib. It didn’t mention anything about her record on what she supported, opposed or sponsored. Instead, it skipped all of that and only offered general gushings about her style and personality traits. A brief sampling:
“She brings a unique mixture of passion and pragmatism…”
“Tlaib’s fiery style, disdain of the status quo…”
“[She] seems destined to play an increasingly important role as she accumulates seniority and experience in the House.”
“Tlaib takes constituent service seriously…”
“She has deep connections to the communities she serves.”
That was it. The Free Press is impressed that Tlaib works hard and has passion. That was seemingly enough for an endorsement. Passion and hard work are certainly good qualities, but that can be said about lots of politicians, even the most odious ones. Marjorie Taylor Green works hard and has passion. So do Laurent Bobert and Matt Gaetz.
An endorsement solely based on a we-just-like-her-style standard might be acceptable for a middle school newspaper, but hardly befitting of a major metropolitan news outlet that prides itself on worthy political commentary.
Something doesn’t add up here.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room. Any conscious adult paying even mild attention to politics knows that Rashida Tlaib is probably the most vocal opponent of Israel in the U.S. Congress. It’s not a minor part of her agenda; it defines her in many ways. She routinely goes out of her way to not only hammer Israel, but to do everything in her power to undermine Israel’s ability to defend itself or to delegitimize its very existence.
The Free Press obviously knows this, and yet apparently decided to just sidestep the issue entirely. This raises one obvious question: does the endorsement of her candidacy — even with its amateurish gush-fest of her “fiery style” and her “unique mixture of passion and pragmatism” — reveal something deeper about the editorial staff of the Free Press?
We don’t know the answer since the Free Press chose to remain silent on anything of substance in their endorsement. Perhaps they need to re-acquaint themselves with the facts about Rashida Tlaib and the issue of Israel. They’re not difficult to locate.
Let me provide a brief reminder.
Perhaps the Free Press needs to be reminded that Rashida Tlaib has advocated for a “one-state solution” as the best path for peace in the Middle East — a position unsupported by any other member of Congress, including her fellow Squad members. A one-state solution, as she uses the term, is code for the eradication of Israel as a Jewish state. During the 2018 campaign, Tlaib advocated a two-state solution, a position that earned her an endorsement from the left wing Jewish group, J Street. Soon after that, she changed her position and pushed for a one-state solution, which caused J Street to revoke its endorsement. Congressman Ted Deutch — the Democratic Chair of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and Global Counterterrorism — told the New York Times, ”Once you advocate getting rid of a Jewish state … that’s when you end up on the path to anti-Semitism.”
Perhaps the Free Press needs to be reminded that last May, Tlaib spoke at a rally co-sponsored by The Arab American News, in which she stood by as publisher Osama Siblani called for Palestinians to attack Israel, whether it be with "stones," "guns," or "their hands.” As she watched and signaled no disapproval, Siblani urged Palestinians to strike Israel “with knives and with their bare hands.” Siblani, a financial supporter of Rashida Tlaib, is a unabashed supporter of Hezbollah and Hamas, two groups designated as terrorist organizations by the U.S. government, whose charters explicitly call for the destruction of Israel.
Perhaps the Free Press needs to be reminded that Rashida Tlaib is an ardent supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, whose founder, Omar Barghouti, openly acknowledged that the real aim of the movement is the end of a two-state solution, stating that “someone has to issue an official death certificate before the rotting corpse is given a proper burial.” In other words, Freep, BDS seeks the end of Israel as a Jewish state.
Perhaps the Free Press needs to be reminded that upon Tlaib’s Congressional victory celebration, a staff member placed a piece of tape over Israel on a map of the Middle East and wrote the word ‘Palestine’ over it. The newly elected congresswoman defended the action and kept the tape in place.
Perhaps the Free Press needs to be reminded that her call for the “right of return” of all Palestinians to Israel is not only a misrepresentation of history but a transparent call for the end of a Jewish Israel.
Perhaps the Free Press needs to be reminded that Tlaib claimed that people from "Gaza to Detroit" are controlling events “behind a curtain,” a clear antisemitic dog whistle that rich Jewish "globalists" secretly control the world.
Perhaps the Free Press needs to be reminded that Tlaib was among only nine House members who voted against funding for the Israel Iron Dome missile defense system, which has been vital to the country’s survival, particularly in May of 2021 when over 4,000 Hamas rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel, often targeting civilian sites.
Rashida Tlaib’s hostility to Israel is open and unequivocal. It’s not an ancillary issue to her; it lies at the heart of who she is and what she stands for. She seeks an end to a Jewish Israel. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to discover that.
The Free Press editorial board couldn’t have possibly been unaware of this fact, leading one to conclude that either they lacked the guts to speak up or, worse yet, they condone her rhetoric.
Either way, it’s a shameful commentary on what has become of a news source I subscribe to. At least I used to.