Jackie Headapohl Managing Editor
J Street rescinds its approval of Detroit congressional candidate Rashida Tlaib.
J Street withdrew its endorsement of Rashida Tlaib, the Democratic candidate for Congress in Michigan’s 13th District running unopposed in the November election, who is expected to be the first Palestinian-American Muslim woman in Congress.
J Street’s decision came after a published interview in In These Times magazine in which Tlaib advocated for a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and expressed support for the Palestinian right of return and the free speech rights of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists.
J Street, a liberal policy organization, advocates for a two-state solution to the conflict. Tlaib had previously received the endorsement of the lobby’s JStreetPAC based on her supposed support for two states.
“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 on Aug. 17.
“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.
In the Aug. 14 interview with In These Times, Tlaib, when asked whether she supported a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, replied, “One state. It has to be one state. Separate but equal does not work.”
She went on to say, “I’ve been very clear. I will not support racist countries that pick and choose who gets access to justice. My grandmother shouldn’t be denied access or be considered less human because she is Palestinian.”
She cited an incident that occurred in Israel when she was 19 with her family, some of whom were wearing head scarves. “We all jumped in the water and the Israelis jumped out as if my cousins were diseased,” she said.
She also said, “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.”
She went on to say that “I am not going to dehumanize Israelis. I won’t do that … Many [Israelis] are marching, saying no to Netanyahu’s apartheid policies. There’s a movement in Israel I support that wants an Israel that embraces Palestinians.”
In its statement, J Street said, “We strongly support and are encouraged by Tlaib’s commitment to social justice, and we are inspired by her determination to bring the voice of underrepresented communities to Capitol Hill.
“We wish her and her campaign well, and we look forward to a close working relationship with her and her office when she takes her seat in Congress next year.”
David Kurzmann, executive director of the JCRC/AJC, said, “We were deeply disappointed with Rashida Tlaib’s statements about a one-state solution, which appear to contradict positions she took during the campaign. We continue to believe that a two-state solution is the only way to create peace for Israel and the Palestinian people.
“We have known Rashida Tlaib for a number of years, and she has always been open to dialogue with our community,” Kurzmann added. “We hope that she will keep that same openness and hear our very real concerns about her recent statements.”
A request for comment from Rashida Tlaib was not returned by press time.
JTA contributed to this report.