Two progressive congresswomen and a national Muslim activist, each with a history of making anti-Semitic and radical anti-Israel comments, have joined the fray in Georgia and are actively supporting the state’s Democratic Senate candidates in January’s runoff elections.
Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) were joined by activist Linda Sarsour as featured guest speakers Sunday in a virtual “vote-a-thon” put on by the Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Georgia Muslim Voter Project.
Omar and Sarsour used the event to promote Georgia’s Democratic candidates.
Their support could prove troublesome, particularly for Democrat Raphael Warnock, who is trying to convince voters that he would be a friend to Jews and to Israel. As a candidate, he’s tried to walk back past statements comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa and accusing Israeli soldiers of shooting down unarmed Palestinians “like birds of prey.”
While promoters had described Sunday’s event as a nonpartisan get-out-the-vote effort, the organizers raised money through ActBlue, a fundraising platform for Democratic candidates and progressive organizations. And the speakers were not shy about saying who they believe Georgia Muslims should go out and vote for.
“You, the Muslim community in Georgia, by yourselves, can literally swing this entire election and send two Democrats to the U.S. Senate, which makes [Vice President-elect] Kamala Harris the deciding voter,” said Sarsour, the former co-chair of the Women’s March who has repeatedly been accused of anti-Semitism, and is an open advocate of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against the State of Israel. She opposes the existence of a Jewish state and has referred to all of Israeli territory as occupied.
By voting for the Democratic Senate candidates, Warnock and Jon Ossoff, Georgia’s Muslims “can actually alleviate harm and suffering on millions of immigrants in this country, particularly on the issue of immigration reform, on issues of climate change,” Sarsour said. “I mean, the planet is dying folks. Even if you win justice and there’s no planet, it’s not going to work.”
During the event, Omar gave credit to Muslim voters in Georgia for helping to swing the state to President-elect Joe Biden in November, saying that “everybody decided it was important for them to respond to the hatred that the Republicans and [President Donald] Trump were spewing.”
She said Muslims in Georgia have another opportunity to swing the country in January, and that “progress for our country runs through Georgia.” Some Muslims may feel relief because Trump was defeated, she added, while warning that defeating Trump wasn’t enough. “We need actual relief that comes with progress, and that progress is not going to be possible unless we are able to legislate that progress. And we can’t legislate that progress unless we have a Senate that is willing to work on behalf of progress in this country.”
In Congress, Omar sponsored a resolution designed to support the BDS movement, accused pro-Israel Americans of having an “allegiance to a foreign country,” and once downplayed the September 11 terror attacks as an event where “some people did something.”
Before she was elected, Omar accused Israel of “hypnotizing the world.”
Tlaib, the first of the three to speak during Sunday’s event, avoided partisanship during her time on screen. She said, “I wished I lived in Georgia right now.”
“I feel like you all have this opportunity, that has just been given, almost like in a gift, that has been given to all of you to represent the Muslim community nationally,” said Tlaib, also a supporter of the BDS movement. She was denounced for calling for Palestinian freedom “from the river to the sea,” a phrase interpreted by the Anti-Defamation League to convey an interest in eliminating the state of Israel.
In a statement to the Washington Times, the campaign for Republican U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler, who is being challenged by Warnock, said, “It’s no surprise to see such a radical fringe group” supporting her opponent. “On Israel, CAIR and Warnock’s beliefs align perfectly. Warnock has been repeatedly exposed for his anti-Israel positions.”
CAIR leadership has for years refused to disavow the federally designated terror group Hamas, which acts as the Palestinian branch of the Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood. CAIR lobbied the Obama administration to pardon five Hamas operatives who were convicted for providing material support to terrorists. The operatives worked for the Holy Land Foundation, an offshoot of Hamas in the U.S. that advertised itself as the nation’s largest Muslim charity, though it actually provided funds to Middle Eastern terror networks.
A CAIR spokesman told the Washington Times that the Loeffler campaign’s “anti-Muslim screed” was “factually inaccurate.”
Last year, Warnock was part of a group of African-American church leaders who toured the Middle East and released a statement accusing Israel of engaging in tactics similar to those previously used by apartheid South Africa and Communist East Germany — “patterns that seem to have been borrowed and perfected from other previous repressive regimes.”
In a 2018 sermon, after Hamas terrorists stormed the Israeli border, Warnock accused the Israeli government of shooting down “unarmed Palestinian sisters and brothers like birds of prey . . . like they don’t matter at all.”
In 2015, he also linked Israel to apartheid, and also likened Israel prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to segregationist former Alabama governor George Wallace.
And in a 2013, Warnock called the Nation of Islam an “important” voice for African Americans and for the development of black theology, “because it was the black Muslims who challenged black preachers and said that you’re promulgating, they called it the white man’s religion,” he said. “And that’s a slave religion.” According to the ADL, the Nation of Islam “has maintained a consistent record of anti-Semitism and racism since its founding in the 1930s.”
As a Senate candidate, Warnock released a position paper stating that he will “stand with Israel and the Jewish people to protect their interests, advocate for the human dignity of the Palestinian people and their position in the world, promote peace, and ensure the U.S. remains economically strong, safe, and secure.”
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article stated incorrectly that Tlaib and Sarsour spoke at a CAIR fundraiser for Raphael Warnock, when the event was actually billed as a non-partisan “get out the vote” effort, though the featured speakers did encourage viewers to vote for Democrats.