Tuesday, June 2, 2020 -
Print Edition

Draped in the flag

American Jewish Committee, Rashida Tlaib: two sides of one coin

Should we demand of synagogues that they remove the Israeli flag from the pulpit because, you know, this is evidence of “dual loyalty?”

The question is a rhetorical question — or is it? The American Jewish Committee might be the first in line demanding the Israeli-flag removal — if it is consistent. Objecting to an objectionable comment by freshman Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, the AJCommittee dispatched a tweet with a photo of Tlaib embracing a fan wrapped in a Palestinian flag, with this tagline: “Tell us more about dual loyalty, @RashidaTlaib.”

We cringed. It is no more evidence of dual loyalty to embrace the Palestinian cause — or the Irish cause, or the Cuba cause — or the cause of whatever homeland one is attached to — than it is to embrace the Israel cause. What matters in the dual loyalty charge is whether one’s loyalty to America comes first and foremost. Of all the organizations to forget this, it is especially shameful for the American Jewish Committee to do so, since it sponsors celebrations at the swearing-in of new American citizens.

One would think that the AJCommittee understands the definition of American citizenship. It does not exclude sympathy for any country or people not at war with the US.

Now, what precisely was objectionable about Tlaib’s comment? She accused pro-Israel senators (all non-Jewish) of forgetting what country they represent for their sponsorship of pro-Israel bills in Congress. Well, state that in reverse, Ms. Tlaib: To be pro-Israel is no more evidence of dual loyalty than it is to embrace the Palestinian flag.

Dual loyalty, when it exists, is an equivalence between  the US and  another country. No US senator is guilty of dual loyalty.

Be careful, Ms. Tlaib. If you keep using the phrase “dual loyalty,” it may be turned against you. The next person to be charged may be you or other advocates of the Palestinian cause. We hope not, not least because the dual loyalty charge primarily targets pro-Israel American Jews. As ably stated by the ADL:

“Though the legislation discussed is sponsored by four non-Jewish senators, any charge of dual loyalty has special sensitivity and resonance for Jews, particularly in an environment of rising anti-Semitism.”

The country needs more judicious language from both Rashida Tlaib and the American Jewish Committee.

Copyright © 2019 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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