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

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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.

Author

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

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

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