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Michigan congressional candidate Rashida Tlaib endorses one-state solution, pledges to slash Israeli military aid

(JTA) – A Michigan Democrat who is all but certain to become a congresswoman said she would “absolutely” vote against military aid to Israel, sparking criticism from a Jewish Democratic group.

The candidate, Rashida Tlaib, also said in an interview that she favors a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as opposed to a two-state solution that would establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Tlaib, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, recently won the Democratic nomination in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District. The Republicans are not running a candidate in the Detroit-area district.

She is one of two Muslim women likely to be the first to be elected to Congress. The other is Ilhan Omar.

Asked whether she would consider slashing military aid to Israel in an August 13 interview with Britain’s Channel 4, Tlaib responded, “Absolutely, if it has something to do with inequality and not access to people having justice. For me, U.S. aid should be leverage. I will be using my position in Congress so that no country, not one, should be able to get aid from the U.S. when they still promote that kind of injustice.

“So much is about ‘let’s choose a side,’” she continued, opining on the Israeli-Arab conflict. “I am for making sure that every single person there has every right to thrive.”

In a subsequent interview August 14 with In These Times magazine, Tlaib endorsed a one-state solution and supported the free speech rights of BDS activists, who push for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.

“One state,” she said in response to a question about whether she supports a one- or two-state solution. “This whole idea of a two-state solution, it doesn’t work.”

That position runs counter to the stance of JStreetPac, a group affiliated with the liberal Middle East policy organization.

After hearing Tlaib’s remarks, JStreetPac withdrew its previous endorsement.

“After closely consulting with Rashida Tlaib’s campaign to clarify her most current views on various aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we have come to the unfortunate conclusion that a significant divergence in perspectives requires JStreetPAC to withdraw our endorsement of her candidacy,” read a statement from J Street Friday afternoon. “While we have long championed the value of a wide range of voices in the discussion of the conflict and related issues, we cannot endorse candidates who come to the conclusion that they can no longer publicly express unequivocal support for a two-state solution and other core principles to which our organization is dedicated,” the statement said.

Still, in its statement, J Street praised her presumptive election as “a historic milestone for the Palestinian-American community and for the United States as a whole. … We strongly support and are encouraged by her commitment to social justice, and we are inspired by her determination to bring the voice of underrepresented communities to Capitol Hill,” the statement said. In response to Tlaib’s Monday statement on military aid on Britain’s Channel 4, the Jewish Democratic Council of America cited joint military and missile programs the following day in describing the U.S.-Israel relationship as “mutually beneficial.” It said that “threatening to cut military assistance to Israel is inconsistent with the values of the Democratic Party and the American people.”

The group pledged to engage with Tlaib and explain why “U.S. military aid to Israel is a national security priority.” The statement came out at approximately the same time as Tlaib’s In These Times interview and does not reference it.

Speaking to the Huffington Post last week, Tlaib said she was “going to be a voice” for her family in the West Bank, with whom she maintains close ties, saying that she wanted to break down barriers between Israelis and Palestinians, “two people who have so much more in common.”

“I look forward to being able to humanize so many of them that have felt ‘less than’ for so long,” she said.



Ilhan Omar, who called Israel an ‘apartheid regime,’ wins Minnesota primary

By Ron Kampeas

Ilhan Omar, a candidate for U.S. Congress, speaking at a Hillary for Minnesota event at the University of Minnesota, October 2016. (Lorie Shaull/Flickr)

(JTA) — Ilhan Omar, who once called Israel an “apartheid regime,” but who more recently came out against the boycott Israel movement, handily won the Democratic nomination in a Minneapolis-area congressional district.

Omar, a Somalia-born community activist and representative in the State House, is favored to win in November in the 5th District now held by Keith Ellison, who won the DFL primary for state attorney general. DFL is the state’s Democratic Party.

Minnesota was one of four states to hold primaries on Tuesday along with Wisconsin, Connecticut and Vermont.

Omar’s tweets about Israel have earned her notoriety in the pro-Israel community. In 2012, she said that Israel had “hypnotized the world” to ignore its “evil doings.” Defending that tweet earlier this year, she said on the same platform that calling attention to the “Israeli apartheid regime” was not antisemitic.

Speaking last week at a candidates’ forum at Beth El Synagogue in Saint Louis Park, she affirmed her belief in Israel’s right to exist and said she opposed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel.

“It is going to be important for us to recognize Israel’s place in the Middle East and the Jewish people’s rightful place within that region,” she said, according to a report by a local news site, TC Jewfolk.

“I believe right now with the BDS movement, it’s not helpful in getting that two-state solution,” said Omar, who had been endorsed by the DFL. “I think the particular purpose for [BDS] is to make sure that there is pressure, and I think that pressure really is counteractive. Because in order for us to have a process of getting to a two-state solution, people have to be willing to come to the table and have a conversation about how that is going to be possible and I think that stops the dialogue.”

Omar is one of two Muslim women likely to be the first elected to Congress. The other is Rashida Tlaib, who won her primary in a Detroit-area district last week.

Dean Phillips, the Jewish heir to a distillery fortune and the founder of a gelato company, handily won the DFL primary in the state’s 3rd District and will face incumbent Republican Erik Paulsen in November. Democrats believe they have a shot at flipping the district, which comprises suburbs of Minneapolis-St. Paul. Phillips, who rejected money from political action committees, is the grandson of Pauline Friedman Phillips, better known as the advice columnist Dear Abby.

Angie Craig, a former executive who is married to a Jewish woman, was uncontested in the DFL primary in the 2nd District, which comprises the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area and some suburbs. She faces incumbent Republican Jason Lewis in the fall in another district that Democrats hope to flip.

In neighboring Wisconsin, Paul Nehlen, who is openly antisemitic, failed in his bid to win the Republican nod to replace Rep. Paul Ryan, the U.S. House of Representatives speaker. Nehlen finished a distant third in the southeastern 1st District,. Bryan Steil, a former aide to Ryan, is the GOP nominee.

In Wisconsin’s 6th District, comprising Milwaukee’s outer suburbs. Dan Kohl, a scion of the state’s department store family and a nephew of former Sen. Herb Kohl, was uncontested in the Democratic primary and will face incumbent Republican Glenn Grothman in November. Kohl is a founder of J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, and had its endorsement.

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