rashida-tlaib-hanukkah-greeting-israel-edited-1162799129.jpg by the Forward

Rashida Tlaib: Tony Blinken better not ‘suppress my First Amendment right’ to criticize Netanyahu

Image by Getty

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib expressed concern Sunday that President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for Secretary of State might try to silence her criticism of Israeli government policy. Biden tapped longtime diplomat Tony Blinken for the role.

“Just make sure he doesn’t try to silence me and suppress my First Amendment right to speak out against Netanyahu’s racist and inhumane policies,” Tlaib wrote on Twitter, referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Tlaib wrote a similar message immediately after. Both were in reply to progressive leaders who had praised the selection of Blinken. Her concerns come days after the State Department announced that it had determined the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel was antisemitic and that it would end funding to organizations that support BDS.

The announcement came on the same week that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a staunch supporter of the Israeli government, made an official visit to a settlement in the occupied West Bank.

It was unclear exactly what prompted Tlaib’s tweets on Sunday, though the Michigan congresswoman has been a vocal critic of the Israeli government and Netanyahu initially barred her from visiting the Jewish State last year.

Tlaib was one of 17 members of Congress to vote against a resolution condemning BDS over concerns that it would impinge on free speech rights.

“I stand before you as the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, parents who experienced being stripped of their human rights, the right to freedom of travel, equal treatment,” Tlaib said at the time. “So I can’t stand by and watch this attack on our freedom of speech and the right to boycott the racist policies of the government and the state of Israel.”

Tlaib’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

Blinken, who is Jewish, served as Deputy Secretary of State and Deputy National Security Advisor under President Barack Obama. He is also a close Biden advisor and was active during the campaign, including serving as a liaison to some progressive groups. He is not known for holding strong positions on Israel or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Arno Rosenfeld

Arno Rosenfeld

Arno Rosenfeld is a staff writer for the Forward, where he covers U.S. politics and American Jewish institutions. You can reach him at arno@forward.com and follow him on Twitter @arnorosenfeld.

Rashida Tlaib warns Blinken over Netanyahu, free speech

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Rashida Tlaib: Tony Blinken better not ‘suppress my First Amendment right’ to criticize Netanyahu

Thank you!

This article has been sent!