After news broke that President-elect Joe Biden would tap Antony Blinken as secretary of state, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) tweeted her thoughts about how she could support him.
“So long as he doesn’t suppress my First Amendment right to speak out against [Israel Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s racist and inhumane policies,” Tlaib tweeted. “The Palestinian people deserve equality and justice.”
Tlaib, who is Palestinian-American, tweeted much the same thoughts thrice, actually.
Upon spotting one of the tweets, CNN’s Jake Tapper made a not-so-veiled accusation that Tlaib was being anti-Semitic. Blinken, like Tapper, is Jewish and has told of his father’s story of surviving the Holocaust.
“[What] is it about Secretary of State-nominee Blinken that makes the congresswoman think he would try to suppress her views on Israel? Hmmm,” Tapper tweeted, then deleted and rewrote somewhat more subtly.
While Biden does not support the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement, he has specifically said that he supports proponents’ free speech rights. This contrasts with the current administration, which has worked to suppress BDS by defunding groups that support it.
Tapper wasn’t the only one accusing Tlaib of anti-Semitism. Most felt that her insinuation that Blinken would suppress her First Amendment rights was way off the mark.
“Blinken is Jewish, in case you’re wondering about the subtext of her bizarre suggestion that the U.S. Secretary of State has any power to ‘suppress’ a member of Congress’s First Amendment rights,” commented Tsar Beckett Adams of the Washington Examiner.
Some came to Tlaib’s defense.
This isn’t the first time Tapper and Tlaib have tangled about Israeli and Palestinian relations. In 2019, the pair got into it on Twitter.
Her remarks came after Tapper criticized the rhetoric against Israel in the Arab world on State of the Union.
“Palestinians leaders and the way they talk about Israelis, justifying, in the same way you’re doing—no direct link necessarily between what the leader says and the violence to some poor Israeli girl in a pizzeria, but the idea that you’re validating this hatred,” Tapper said, according to the Hill.
“You can’t compare the ideology of Hamas with anything else. But at the same time, either tone matters or it doesn’t.”
Tlaib was among those who took umbrage with Tapper’s statements. She accused the man of “comparing Palestinian human rights advocates to terrorist white nationalists.”
Tapper responded by accusing her of misrepresenting his words. “What I said was those who believe Palestinian leaders bear responsibility for the incitement of terrorism cannot then let US leaders off the hook and act as if words don’t matter,” he tweeted.
The fight apparently continues.