Jewish Democratic group pans Mich. candidate’s pledge to slash Israeli military aid


(JTA) — The Jewish Democratic Council of America issued a statement panning Rashida Tlaib on Tuesday after Michigan’s likely next congresswoman told Britain’s Channel 4 that she would “absolutely” vote against military aid to Israel.

Citing joint military and missile programs, the Jewish Democratic group described the U.S.-Israel relationship as “mutually beneficial” and asserted that “threatening to cut military assistance to Israel is inconsistent with the values of the Democratic Party and the American people.”

The group pledged to engage with the Tlaib and explain why “U.S. military aid to Israel is a national security priority.”

Tlaib, who is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, recently won the Democratic nomination in Michigan’s 13th Congressional district. The Republicans are not running a candidate in the district, making her electoral victory all but certain.

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Asked about whether she’d consider slashing military aid to Israel during her Channel 4 interview on Monday, Tlaib responded “Absolutely, if it has something to do with inequality and not access to people having justice. For me U.S. aid should be leverage. I will be using my position in Congress so that no country, not one, should be able to get aid from the U.S. when they still promote that kind of injustice.”

“So much is about, ‘let’s choose a side,’” she continued, opining on the Israeli-Arab conflict. “I am for making sure that every single person there has every right to thrive.”

Speaking to the Huffington Post last week, Tlaib said she was “going to be a voice” for her family in the West Bank, with whom she maintains close ties, saying that she wanted to break down barriers between Israelis and Palestinians, “two people who have so much more in common.”

“I look forward to being able to humanize so many of them that have felt ‘less than’ for so long,” she said.

According to her candidate page on the website of JStreetPac, a political action committee linked to the left-leaning J Street advocacy group, Tlaib “believes that the US should be directly involved with negotiations to reach a two-state solution” and “supports all current aid to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, particularly to fund initiatives that ‘foster peace, as well as economic and humanitarian services.’”

Tlaib is not the only Democratic candidate critical of Israel to make waves recently. This week Ilhan Omar, who once called Israel an “Apartheid regime,” but who more recently came out against the boycott Israel movement, handily won the Democratic nomination in a Minneapolis-area congressional District.

Omar, a Somali born community activist and representative in the State House, is favored to win in November in the 5th District now held by Keith Ellison, who won the DFL primary for state attorney general. DFL is the state’s Democratic Party.