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Rashida Tlaib

Democrats seethe over Tlaib, Omar’s Israel comments

House Democrats are once again locked in an internal struggle over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after a number of vocal left-wing voices in the caucus diverged from the White House’s stance on a key flashpoint in the Israel-Hamas war.

Pro-Israel Democrats are incensed that Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) blamed Israel for a deadly attack on a Gaza City hospital this week. Palestinian officials said hundreds of civilians died in the incident, leading to a wave of international protests against Israel and the United States.

However, the National Security Council has assessed that Israel isn’t responsible for the explosion, a conclusion that President Joe Biden has publicly reiterated. Leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees repeated this, as well. Omar, for her part, issued an update on Wednesday evening admitting that according to U.S. intelligence, Israel wasn’t behind the attack.

Privately, some Jewish Democrats have complained to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ team about Tlaib and Omar’s comments on the incident. Others are publicly lambasting the pair.

“It’s stunning to me that in the face of our own country’s intelligence that they did not take those statements down,” Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) told us. DWS went after Tlaib and Omar for calling for a ceasefire “rather than criticizing and training their ire and their anger at the terrorist organization that perpetrated this.”

“It is outrageous, the rush to judgment about a terrorist organization with clear intent to disseminate falsehoods and wreak havoc and drive violence,” Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) added. “To disseminate falsehoods after it is clear that they are falsehoods is at best irresponsible, if not intentional to causal.”

Jeffries told reporters Wednesday he hadn’t seen Tlaib and Omar’s posts and wouldn’t say whether they should be deleted. In a follow-up statement, Jeffries spokesperson Christie Stephenson said there is evidence the blast was “a result of an errant rocket fired by the Islamic Jihad.”

“It is shameful but not surprising that Hamas would propagate misinformation and recklessly inflame passions here in America and throughout the world,” Stephenson added.

Even Senate Democrats like progressive Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.), joined in the criticism.

“It’s truly disturbing that Members of Congress rushed to blame Israel for the hospital tragedy in Gaza,” Fetterman said. “Who would take the word of a group that just massacred innocent Israeli civilians over our key ally?”

To rewind: Omar and Tlaib, who are outspoken about supporting the cause of the Palestinian people, initially blamed the IDF for the hospital explosion.

Omar, who fled civil war in Somalia as a child before immigrating to the United States, on Tuesday accused the IDF of “the gravest of war crimes.”

Omar later said the incident was “a reminder that information is often unreliable and disputed in the fog of war” and called for an independent investigation into the blast.

“Israel just bombed the Baptist Hospital killing 500 Palestinians (doctors, children, patients) just like that,” Tlaib said Tuesday.

Tlaib’s parents are Palestinian immigrants, and she’s the only Palestinian-American in Congress. She’s long criticized Israel as an “apartheid government” that uses U.S. funding to help oppress Palestinians.

On their respective social media accounts, Tlaib and Omar had reminded their followers that the IDF has misled the public in the past.

While Omar clarified her post, Tlaib appeared to double down on the now-debunked assertion that Israel was behind the blast. Speaking to protesters outside the Capitol Wednesday afternoon, Tlaib said it was difficult “to continue to watch people say it’s OK to bomb a hospital with children.”

— Max Cohen

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