EXCLUSIVE: McCarthy Blocks Rashida Tlaib's Anti-Semitic Congressional Event

'As long as I’m Speaker, we are going to support Israel’s right to self-determination and self-defense'

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich).
May 9, 2023

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy moved on Tuesday evening to block Michigan's Democratic congresswoman Rashida Tlaib from hosting an anti-Semitic congressional event planned for Wednesday, the speaker’s office confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon.

McCarthy told the Free Beacon that he intervened late Tuesday to reserve the Capitol Visitor Center space where Tlaib was set to host a Wednesday event to mourn Israel’s founding as a "catastrophe.'  In its place, the speaker will lead a bipartisan briefing celebrating the 75th anniversary of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

"It’s wrong for members of Congress to traffic in anti-Semitic tropes about Israel," McCarthy told the Free Beacon. "As long as I’m Speaker, we are going to support Israel’s right to self-determination and self-defense, unequivocally and in a bipartisan fashion."

The anti-Semitic ‘Squad’ member came under fire this week after the Free Beacon reported that she would host the event alongside an array of anti-Israel groups, including some that have defended terrorism. Tlaib’s event was meant to celebrate the "Nakba," a Palestinian term for the creation of Israel that loosely translates as "catastrophe."

It is unclear how Tlaib and her supporters will move forward with the event now that McCarthy has occupied their meeting space. Tlaib, or another member, could potentially attempt to reschedule the event for a later date.

McCarthy’s intervention comes on the heels of a letter sent Tuesday evening by a rabbinical group asking leaders in the House and Senate to condemn Tlaib’s event.

"It is unsurprising but appalling that the featured speaker at this event will be a Member of Congress who describes the only Middle Eastern country to give equality and voting rights to both Jews and Arabs as ‘apartheid,’" the Coalition for Jewish Values, a pro-Israel advocacy organization comprised of more than 2,000 rabbis, wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Free Beacon. "We hope that our request will meet with your favorable response, and that you will condemn this event in the strongest terms as soon as possible."

Tlaib was scheduled to headline the anti-Israel event with several organizations that support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, an anti-Semitic effort to wage economic war on Israel. They include Jewish Voice for Peace, a "radical anti-Israel activist group" that pushes the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and has come under fire for glorifying Palestinian terrorism. Other organizers include Emgage Action, another BDS supporter that claims Israel is an "apartheid state," and Americans for Justice in Palestine Action, an advocacy group that claims Jewish money is infecting politics.

The invitation for Wednesday's event accuses "Zionist militias" of violently expelling Palestinians from the region when Israel was created in 1948, and maintains that Israel continues to brutalize Palestinians.

"May 15th marks 75 years since the beginning of the Nakba, which means 'catastrophe,'" the invitation reads. "Seventy-five years ago, Zionist militias and the new Israeli military violently expelled approximately three-quarters of all Palestinians from their homes and homeland in what became the state of Israel."

Speakers aimed to "uplift the experiences of Palestinians who underwent the Nakba, and educate members of Congress and their staff about this history and the ongoing Nakba to which Israel continues to subject Palestinians," according to the invitation.

Nakba ceremonies have long promoted anti-Israel attitudes and descended "into expressions of support for terror groups or attacks against Israelis," according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter. Tlaib's office did not respond to a request for comment.

Liora Rez, executive director of the pro-Israel watchdog StopAntiSemitism, praised McCarthy's action, saying he prevented Tlaib's "ongoing vilification campaigns against the world's only Jewish nation."

"Congresswoman Tlaib," Rez said, "appears to forget she was elected to represent Michigan's 12th district, not Gaza or Ramallah."