Elissa Slotkin Under Fire for 'Weak Response' to Pro-Hamas Rally

Michigan Dem Senate candidate denounces 'hateful language' four days after rally where activists chanted 'death to Israel and America'

Rep. Elissa Slotkin (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
April 10, 2024

Democratic representative Elissa Slotkin (Mich.), a candidate for U.S. Senate, is facing criticism for her "weak response" to a pro-terrorist rally in Dearborn, two months after she denied that the city was becoming a hotbed for anti-American radicalism.

Slotkin denounced "hateful language," four days after the "Al-Quds Day" rally on April 5 in the heavily Muslim city of Dearborn. At the event, activists chanted "death to America," "death to Israel," and praised the former supreme leader of Iran.

The congresswoman said that "hateful language has no place in our communities, no matter the cause," adding that the "statements do not reflect the views of Michigan’s communities."

Her comments were more reserved than some other local community leaders. They come as Slotkin has called for an Israeli ceasefire and sought to placate Muslim voters in Michigan, who make up a large portion of the state’s Democratic voting bloc. Dr. Mahmoud Al-Hadidi, the chairman of the Michigan Muslim Community Council, said the rally chants "should be investigated as hate speech" and denounced them as "very dangerous," according to Fox 2 in Detroit.

Republicans and critics on social media slammed Slotkin’s comments as too little and too late, noting that she met with members of an Islamic center that blamed Israel for "spark[ing] the deadly violence" of Hamas’s terrorist attacks on Oct. 7.

"This you?" wrote Republican operative Steve Guest on Twitter, posting a headline about Slotkin’s meeting with the group.

"Took you long enough to come out with a statement," wrote another Twitter user. "Did you have to focus group test it first?"

Another user said Slotkin was allowing hate speech to "fester with a weak response like this. Pathetic."

Slotkin’s comments come days after she called on Israel to halt its military operation against Hamas, and two months after she rejected claims that Islamic radicalism is on the rise in Dearborn.

The congresswoman denounced a Wall Street Journal op-ed in February, written by the director of the Middle East Media Research Institute, which called Dearborn "America’s Jihad Capital." The column reported that residents across the city celebrated Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks in Israel and noted that the "radical politics are complicating Mr. Biden’s path to re-election" in the swing state of Michigan.

"Bigotry. Hatred. Anti-Arab and Anti-Muslim," said Slotkin. "If the headline was about any other minority—with the worst stereotype of that group—it would have never gotten through the editors at the WSJ."

Slotkin’s positions on Israel drew criticism on Tuesday from Michigan Republican Senate candidate Mike Rogers’s campaign.

"Are you surprised? While protesters chant ‘death to America,’ Elissa Slotkin calls Rashida Tlaib a ‘bad ass,’ meets with individuals who blamed Israel for Hamas’s terrorist attack just days later, and voted against direct aid for Israel," Rogers spokesman Chris Gustafson told the Washington Free Beacon.

At the Dearborn rally last week, speaker Tarek Bazzi called on the crowd to "pour all of your chants and all of your shouts upon the head of America," prompting chants of "death to America" and "death to Israel." He added that the United States "does not deserve to exist on God's earth."

Another speaker, Imam Usama Abdulghani, called Israel "a cancer" and praised the former supreme leader of Iran Ruhollah Khomeini for "recogniz[ing] that Israel is an evil settler colonialist project."

"Israel is ISIS, they are Nazis, they are fascists, they are racists. The people of the world now know this," he said.