President Trump said on Tuesday that he was unmoved by Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s tearful account of visiting her Palestinian family in Jerusalem as a child, delivered at a press conference where she and Rep. Ilhan Omar discussed their aborted trip to Israel and the West Bank.
“Sorry, I don’t buy Rep. Tlaib’s tears,” the president tweeted. “I have watched her violence, craziness and, most importantly, WORDS, for far too long. Now tears? She hates Israel and all Jewish people. She is an anti-Semite. She and her 3 friends are the new face of the Democrat Party. Live with it!”
Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat, has no record of committing violence and it’s unclear what Trump meant by the reference. He has sought to paint her and Rep. Omar, D-Minn., along with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., as the “leaders” of the Democratic Party.
Omar and Tlaib, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, are outspoken critics of Israel’s policies toward Palestinians and vocal supporters of the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement. They were scheduled to arrive in the region on Sunday on a trip that was initially approved by the Israeli government.
But last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under pressure from Trump, announced that Israel had reversed its position, citing a law that permits the government to keep out foreign nationals who support a boycott of the Jewish state.
The Israeli government then granted Tlaib’s request for a “humanitarian” visit to her Palestinian grandmother in the West Bank, but the Michigan congresswoman backed out of the trip, accusing the Israeli government of using her family as leverage against her.
“The Israeli government used my love and desire to see my grandmother to silence me and made my ability to do so contingent upon my signing a letter — reflecting just how undemocratic and afraid they are of the truth my trip would reveal,” she said in a statement. “Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother’s heart. Silencing me with treatment to make me feel less-than is not what she wants for me — it would kill a piece of me that always stands up against racism and injustice.”
At the press conference, the two representatives were joined by Jewish constituents of Omar’s Minnesota district and representatives of progressive Jewish organizations who said they supported the congresswomen.
Tlaib became emotional as she described her grandmother’s reaction to her decision not to visit.
“She said I’m her dream manifested,” Tlaib said. “I’m her free bird. So why would I come back and be caged and bow down?”
While Trump and several Republicans have accused Tlaib of being anti-Semitic, IfNotNow, a progressive Jewish group that supports Tlaib, sees the president as the one spreading hate.
“American Jews see through Trump’s lies,” Emily Mayer, IfNotNow’s spokeswoman, said in a statement to Yahoo News. “We watched as his 2016 campaign regularly used anti-Semitic tropes and inspired the rise of white nationalism. We’re still watching as he spews anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant rhetoric from the Oval Office, inspiring mass violence — and putting so many Americans, including our community, in real danger.
“Rashida has been one of the strongest allies of the Jewish people,” Mayer added. “Trump is once again cynically weaponizing our community’s pain to brush aside legitimate criticism of Israel’s human rights violations.”
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