Omar and Tlaib: ‘Neither Has Said They Hate Israel or the Israeli People’

Omar and Tlaib: ‘Neither Has Said They Hate Israel or the Israeli People’


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Janet Ybarra
Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press

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Donald Trump’s vehement assertions that Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan have voiced hate for Israel is simply untrue, according to a well-known White House reporter.

And the politics of the outspoken House freshmen fit right in within the best of the history of the upper Midwest, a best-selling filmmaker said, separately.

Trump raised the stakes in his feud with Omar and Tlaib late last week by pressuring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to bar the congresswomen from entry to Israel for a planned official congressional delegation.

“Now, first a little bit of a fact-check. Neither has ever said that they hate Israel or the Israeli people,” Welker said in an on-air report with MSNBC host Craig Melvin. “They have been critical of the Israeli government. They recently voted, in essence, in favor of a boycott of the Israeli state over its treatment of Palestinians and they have made some controversial comments about Israeli’s. Omar having to walk back some of those comments.

“But, Craig, look, this comes against a broader backdrop here. The fact that you have President Trump who has attacked them along with two other freshman congresswomen on Twitter essentially calling them socialists, calling for them to go back to their countries — you’ll remember that,” Welker added. “That of course sparks that chant during one of his rallies, send her back, which prompted furry and outrage from members of his own party, quite frankly, as well as Democrats. So this is one more escalation in that ongoing very bitter back and forth between the president and these congresswomen.”

However, the congresswomen’s politics fall well within the traditions of the region they represent, according to progressive filmmaker Michael Moore, himself a native of Flint, Mich.

“Well, first of all, Michigan has a long history, as does Wisconsin and Minnesota, the upper midwest, of what you would call socialism or democratic socialism or farm labor Democratic Party. We’ve never trusted the banks or the large corporations,” Moore said. “General Motors was founded in Flint, Mich., in 1908. A year of General Motors trying to turn this into a company town, people about so upset at it, in the next election, Flint elected a socialist mayor to remove the pro-GM mayor when the corporation first began. So that’s who we are. And the 13th district that Rashida Tlaib represents also has a strong history of — sadly right now it’s the third poorest congressional district in the country.

“But it also has another history. The congressman back in 1972 — I remember this. I was a senior in high school. Charles Diggs was his name. He’s one of the founders of the Congressional Black Caucus. He represented Tlaib’s district in the ‘70s,” Moore added. “He wanted to go and see the situation in South Africa. And the South African government would not give him a visa and they banned him from visiting the country.

“So all these years later to have our congresswoman from the 13th district in Detroit facing a similar thing, what is it that they’re afraid that they’re going to see? What is it that — what doesn’t the Israeli government — I mean I watched earlier [MSNBC host] Ali Velshi had on one of the Israeli army veterans. He said, ‘I was going to be her guide through Hebron, and I was going to take her down the main street of Hebron, where it’s now vacant. All the shops are gone. The Israeli army calls it a sterile street.’ That’s what he said right on this network, a sterile street because there are no Arabs around. Our members of Congress need to see that, and that’s what unfortunately they’re not going to be able to.”

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