Newly installed Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., already has caused controversy in the short time since her election.
For example, she demanded to be sworn into office on Thomas Jefferson’s Quran, perhaps not realizing that Jefferson apparently owned the book to investigate his enemies. The Founding Father was about to launch a war against the Muslim “Barbary Pirates” who had been attacking American ships on the African coast.
She also was accused by Gatestone Institute fellow Soeren Kern of deceiving voters by claiming to be moderate on Israel, when in fact she supports sanctions.
Most prominently, she unleashed a foul rant against President Trump.
Tlaib’s popularity should be of concern to Democrats, said Alan Dershowitz, a Democrat, a senior fellow at Gatestone and a professor emeritus at Harvard Law School.
“If she is the ‘new face’ of the Democratic Party, we Democrats should begin worrying,” he wrote for the Gatestone Institute.
Dershowitz noted Tlaib’s opposition to legislation that would prohibit boycotts that single out Israel.
He said “hypocrisy and bigotry go hand in hand, and Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib is the poster person for both.”
“If Congress were considering legislation prohibiting boycotts directed against gays, women or Muslim owned companies, would Senator Bernie Sanders be arguing that such a ban would violate the First Amendment?” he asked. “If Congress were considering legislation prohibiting companies from boycotting majority Muslim countries, would Rashida Tlaib be accusing its supporters of dual loyalty?”
Dershowitz noted that American laws “have long dealt with discrimination based on sexual orientation, race, gender and national origin.”
“Our laws prohibited compliance with the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses in the 1930s and the Arab boycotts of the 1950s and 1960s. Now Congress is considering legislation dealing with companies that boycott only the nation state of the Jewish people, and only Jews within Israel. To single out only the ‘Jew among nations,’ and not the dozens of far more serious violators of human rights is bigotry pure and simple, and those who support BDS [boycotts divestments and sanctions against Israel] only against Israel are guilty of bigotry.”
He said the leaders of the BDS movement admit they want to eliminate Israel, citing their desire for a Palestinian state from “the river to the sea.”
“So long as these anti-BDS statutes do not prohibit advocacy of such boycotts, but focus instead on the commercial activities themselves – namely the economic boycotts – there are no serious freedom of speech concerns. The First Amendment protects freedom of speech, not freedom to discriminate economically based on invidious classifications.,” he affirmed.
He said he’s seen over the years ads attacking Jews, Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans and others.
“These advertisements would be illegal today despite the fact that they take the form of words. The First Amendment permits a hotel owner to advocate a return to ‘gentiles only,’ or ‘whites only’ hotels, but it does not protect the act of discrimination itself or boycotting based on religion or national origin,” he said.
Dershowitz contends a recent move to prohibit active economic discrimination is constitutional.
“What is unacceptable is discriminatory actions, and nothing can be more discriminatory than singling out an ally with one of the best records of human rights in the world for a boycott, while continuing to do business with the worst human rights offenders in the world. Many of the same bigots who support BDS against Israel, oppose boycotting Cuba, Iran, China, Russia, Venezuela, Syria, Saudi Arabia and other human rights violators. Legislation designed to end such discriminatory actions would be constitutional, if it did not prohibit advocacy,” he said.
Tlaib, Dershowitz noted, contends “boycotting is a right and part of our historical fight for freedom and equality.”
“Would she have supported, in the name of equality, the right of white bigots to boycott Black owned stores in the South or Black apartment renters in the North? Would she support the right of homophobes to boycott gay owned stores? Or the right of anti-Muslim bigots to boycott Muslim-owned stores or products from Muslim nations?” he said.
“It is both bigoted and hypocritical to apply a different standard to Jews who support Israel than to Muslims who support the Palestinian cause,” he said.