TEL AVIV – A Republican lawmaker is trying to stop fellow congresswoman Rashida Tlaib from leading a taxpayer-funded congressional trip to the West Bank.
The trip led by Palestinian-American Tlaib would coincide with the annual Israel mission by AIPAC — a longstanding tradition for freshman lawmakers. Michigan Democrat Tlaib called the AIPAC trip “one-sided” and said her own trip would include a visit to the West Bank village of Beit Ur al-Foqa, where her grandmother lives.
In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and circulated to other congressional offices, Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) said that a trip to “Israel’s nemesis” would harm Israel-U.S. relations and “undo years of goodwill built by the foreign policy and Israeli-American communities.”
“This action, from an outspoken supporter of the ‘BDS’ Israel boycott movement and whose personal vitriol led her to publicly brag about calling our President a ‘mother****er’ to her young son, is both ill-conceived and inconsistent with our national values,” he stated.
“Please consider the damage that a yet unexperienced and overly caustic Member of Congress may cause to Israeli relations, or the perceptions of our own Jewish-American citizens,” he added.
“Israel is of vital importance to US interests in the Middle East,” Babin said, and such a trip “threatens that relationship. To signal to our most threatened ally in the region that the United States Congress sanctions an official trip to visit Israel’s nemesis would be an exceedingly dangerous path forward.”
In an interview, Babin argued that his motive for writing the letter had nothing to do with partisan divides.
“What inspired me to do this was the complete, over the top comments of Rep. Rashida Tlaib,” Babin said. “This is not meant as an adversarial, partisan shot. … I just think this is a slap in the face to many, many decades of foreign policy that we’ve established with Israel and to Jewish Americans.”
Tlaib recently came under fire for posing with pro-Hezbollah, anti-Israel extremist Abbas Hamideh.
Tlaib has expressed her support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. She has also called for the U.S. to cut aid to Israel and supported a one-state solution to the conflict, which, like the “right of return,” would spell the end of the Jewish state by demographic means.
In comments that sparked outrage from Jewish groups, Tlaib last week condemned the anti-BDS Senate legislation initiated by Senator Marco Rubio and Senator James Risch, which protects states that ban Israel boycotts.
“They forgot what country they represent,” tweeted Tlaib. “This is the US where boycotting is a right & part of our historical fight for freedom & equality.”
Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center slammed Tlaib over the tweet, calling it a “cynically alleged ‘dual loyalty’ screed, historically a dog whistle for anti-Semites.”