WASHINGTON — In a first for the organization, JStreet withdrew its midterm election endorsement of a former Michigan state legislator poised to become the first Palestinian-American member of Congress after Rashida Tlaib said she wants a one-state solution in the Middle East.
Tlaib, running to fill the seat vacated by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), is all but a lock for Dems, as Republicans didn’t put forth a candidate. She would be one of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress, and perhaps the first depending on how other Muslim women candidates fare in their races.
A socialist Dem in the mold of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tlaib is running on a platform to abolish ICE, provide Medicare to all and establish a $15 hourly minimum wage. New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaigned for Tlaib.
JStreet, the most prominent progressive organization among Capitol Hill Israel-related lobbying groups, had stated on their website that Tlaib supported a two-state solution — Israel and Palestine, side by side — and “supports all current aid to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”
Some Palestinian activists criticized Tlaib, and she recently stated that the solution “has to be one state” because “separate but equal does not work.” That one state would mean all Palestinians being absorbed into Israel, including with right of return.
Tlaib also supported BDS activists who try to punish Israel with boycotts and sanctions, and told Britain’s Channel 4 that she is “absolutely” in favor of cutting U.S. military aid to Israel “if it has something to do with inequality and not access to people having justice.”
“For me, U.S. aid should be leverage,” she added. “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.”
JStreet said in a statement today that “after closely consulting with Rashida Tlaib’s campaign to clarify her most current views on various aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we have come to the unfortunate conclusion that a significant divergence in perspectives requires JStreetPAC to withdraw our endorsement of her candidacy.”
“While we have long championed the value of a wide range of voices in discussion of the conflict and related issues, we cannot endorse candidates who conclude that they can no longer publicly express unequivocal support for a two-state solution and other core principles to which our organization is dedicated,” the group added.
JStreet noted that Tlaib’s election “will be a historic milestone for the Palestinian-American community and for the United States as a whole.”
“We strongly support and are encouraged by her commitment to social justice, and we are inspired by her determination to bring the voice of underrepresented communities to Capitol Hill,” the statement continued. “We wish her and her campaign well, and we look forward to a close working relationship with her and her office when she takes her seat in Congress next year.”