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Arab-American Obama official rebukes Tlaib for using ‘language of annihilation’ against Israel

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Juliette Kayyem, formerly the highest ranking Arab-American woman in the Obama administration, rebuked Rashida Tlaib in an op-ed for The Atlantic as Tlaib fends off charges of antisemitism from political opponents. 

Kayyem revealed she had “met Rashida Tlaib in 2009, before she was elected to Congress, when she was a young Palestinian American newly serving in the Michigan House of Representatives.” She described Tlaib as a “mesmerizing presence: attentive, sociable, and seemingly fearless.”

But in her piece, Kayyem directly responded to Tlaib’s controversial support of a pro-Palestinian slogan that is widely seen as a declaration for the elimination of Israel.

HOUSE VOTES TO CENSURE RASHIDA TLAIB OVER ANTI-ISRAEL COMMENTS

Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Juliette Kayyem

Juliette Kayyem, formerly the highest ranking Arab-American woman in the Obama administration, addressed Rashida Tlaib in a recent op-ed for The Atlantic as Tlaib fends off charges of antisemitism. (Getty // CNN screenshot)

“By amplifying a loaded slogan, the Michigan representative isn’t helping anyone’s cause,” Kayyem wrote, adding that Tlaib is “amplifying activist rhetoric that, to many ears, casually deploys the language of annihilation.”

Kayyem, who is of Lebanese descent and worked in the Obama administration’s Department of Homeland Security, argued that Tlaib’s comments are especially damaging to Palestinians who are trying to separate themselves from the terrorist organization Hamas, which massacred 1,400 people, many of them civilians, in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

“At a moment when many Palestinians are taking pains to distinguish their cause from that of Hamas—whose actions triggered a brutal Israeli-military response that is killing innocent civilians in Gaza—Tlaib is defending one of the terror group’s preferred tropes,” Kayyem wrote of the Palestinian slogan. “That she has a relatively benign interpretation of it is irrelevant.”

She continued: “Rather than making reasoned arguments that might win other people over, Tlaib has made herself the story by defending From the river to the sea.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib

Twenty-two Democrats voted with 212 Republicans to censure Tlaib after she was criticized for sharing a video on social platform X that included the phrase “From the river to the sea,” a pro-Palestinian liberation slogan. ((Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images))

KEY TOP DEMS SILENT ON CONTROVERSIAL TLAIB STATEMENTS, WON’T COMMENT ON POSSIBLE CENSURE VOTE

Twenty-two Democrats voted with 212 Republicans to censure Tlaib after she was criticized for sharing a video on social platform X that included the phrase “From the river to the sea,” a pro-Palestinian liberation slogan.

“If this is not worthy of censure, what is? When you can call for the annihilation of a country and its people, if that’s not worthy of a censure, what is?” Rep. Rich McCormick, R-Ga., said on the House floor Tuesday. 

Tlaib has not backed down from her comments and has decried efforts to “silence” her. She is the only Palestinian-American member of Congress.

Tlaib’s office did not respond to a request for comment. Kayyem now works as a national security analyst for CNN.

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