Monday, July 15, 2024

A Democratic pro-Israel group is launching television ads that criticize Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. This is the first attempt to respond to the increasing number of Israel skeptics within the Democratic Party.

The Democratic Majority for Israel is behind the ad, which comes at a time when President Biden and other Democrats are facing backlash for their unwavering support of Israel amid the recent conflict with Gaza.

As the only Palestinian American in Congress and one of the two Muslim women in the House, Ms. Tlaib has been a prominent progressive supporter of the Palestinian cause. She is part of a group of 18 House Democrats who have co-sponsored a resolution calling for a cease-fire in the conflict.

The ad, set to air in Detroit where Ms. Tlaib’s district is located, criticizes her votes against funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile protection system and a resolution condemning the Hamas attack on October 7. It argues that the cease-fire legislation “would allow the terrorists to rearm themselves”.

Mark Mellman, the president of Democratic Majority for Israel, emphasized the importance of highlighting Ms. Tlaib’s positions and how he views them as radical and out of step with the Detroit area. He hopes this will lead to her moderating her positions or potentially attracting a more moderate candidate.

Despite airing the ad, Mr. Mellman clarified that his group is not actively recruiting candidates to challenge Ms. Tlaib in next year’s election.

According to Medium Buying, an advertising firm, Democratic Majority for Israel has purchased over $100,000 worth of advertising on broadcast stations, CNN, MSNBC, and CNBC in the Detroit market.

Ms. Tlaib, who will serve until January 2025, does not face a major primary opponent and has not had a well-funded challenger since her initial election in 2018. In the last primary, she received 64 percent of the vote against three Democratic rivals. Her district predominantly votes Democrat in general elections.

Richard Czuba, an independent pollster specializing in Michigan politics, noted that Ms. Tlaib is widely popular in her district, which includes parts of Detroit and its suburbs, including Dearborn—a city with a significant Arab and Muslim American population. He also highlighted her reputation for strong constituent service.

Ms. Tlaib has explained her opposition to U.S. funding for Israel’s military by citing the lack of conditions on upholding Palestinians’ human rights. She also voted against the resolution condemning the October 7 attack, claiming it is biased and provides an incomplete account of the situation in Israel and Palestine.

In response to part of the ad that shows her ignoring a question about unconfirmed reports, an aide to Ms. Tlaib explained that she ignored the question because it came from a Fox News reporter. Ms. Tlaib stated that she does not support the targeting and killing of civilians, regardless of their location, and criticized the suggestion otherwise as offensive and based on bigoted assumptions about her faith and ethnicity.

Other progressive colleagues of Ms. Tlaib who have become skeptical of the U.S.-Israel alliance during the recent conflict, such as Representatives Summer Lee of Pennsylvania and Jamaal Bowman of New York, are also facing primary challenges from rivals supported by pro-Israel organizations.

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