Rashida Tlaib Accused of 'Antisemitic Dog Whistling' in Detroit Remarks

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) was criticized over comments she made in a video that surfaced on Tuesday, with the president of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) accusing her of "ugly antisemitic dog whistling."

"Stunning to hear @RashidaTlaib claim 'behind the curtain,' those who prevent a 'free Palestine' are the 'same people' who exploit 'regular Americans.' We've heard this kind of ugly #antisemitic dog whistling before, but it's appalling when it comes from a member of Congress," ADL President Jonathan Greenblatt said on Twitter.

Tlaib, the first woman of Palestinian descent to serve in Congress, made the comments, at one point appearing to draw comparisons between Gaza and Detroit, at the 2021 Democratic Socialists of America National Convention.

"For me as a Palestinian-American, we also need to recognize as I think about my family and Palestine that continue to live under military occupation and how that really interacts with this beautiful Black city that I grew up in. I always tell people that cutting people off from water is violence. And they do it from Gaza to Detroit. And it's a way to control people, to oppress people and it's those structures that we continue to fight against," she said.

"I know you all understand the structure we've been living under right now is designed by those who exploit the rest of us, for their own profit. I always say to people 'I don't care if it's around the issue of global rights, and our fight to free Palestine, or to pushing back against those who don't believe in a minimum wage or those who believe we don't have a right to healthcare and so much more.' And I tell those same people, that if you open the curtain and look behind the curtain, it's the same people who make money and—yes they do—off of racism, off of these broken policies. There is someone there making money and you saw it, it was so exposed during the pandemic.

"Because of all those structures—everything that was set up, they made record profit when we were all having some of the challenging, most difficult times of our lifetimes, at that moment. And again, they made record profit, so if anything this pandemic has just exposed what we are fighting against."

Hen Mazzig, a Jewish writer, said on Twitter that Tlaib failed to advocate for Palestinians without using "antisemitic tropes."

Tlaib has often been outspoken on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In May, she conveyed her dissatisfaction with U.S. response to the deadly conflict between Israel and Hamas to President Joe Biden, when he was visiting Detroit.

"Palestinian human rights are not a bargaining chip and must be protected, not negotiated," Tlaib said to Biden, as reported by NPR citing an aide of the congresswoman. "The U.S. cannot continue to give the right-wing [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu government billions each year to commit crimes against Palestinians. Atrocities like bombing schools cannot be tolerated, much less conducted with U.S.-supplied weapons."

Greenblatt, who is Jewish, served as director of social innovation under President Barack Obama. The ADL was founded in 1913 "in response to an escalating climate of antisemitism and bigotry." It seeks to "expose extremism, delivering anti-bias education and fighting hate online."

Newsweek has contacted Rep. Tlaib's office for comment on the allegation.

Rashida Tlaib facial recognition technologies ban
Rep. Rashida Tlaib is in hot water after she said that “behind the curtain” the forces who stop a “free Palestine” are the same people who exploit “regular Americans” for their profit. Tlaib, the first woman of Palestinian descent to serve in Congress, has often been outspoken on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nic Antaya/Getty Images