Pennsylvania congresswoman Summer Lee, who is facing a primary challenge driven by her hostility toward Israel, praised a Carnegie Mellon University professor who has compared the Jewish state to Nazi Germany.
Lee in a Thursday social media post congratulated Uju Anya, a self-described "antiracist feminist" who teaches language at the Pittsburgh college, for securing tenure. Anya has emerged as an outspoken critic of Israel following Hamas's Oct. 7 attack, with the professor routinely accusing the Jewish state of "genocide" and "ethnic cleansing." In a Nov. 6 post, meanwhile, Anya compared Israel's retaliatory war on Hamas to "the Nazi campaign to exterminate Jews."
"Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin coined the term genocide in 1943 to describe the Nazi campaign to exterminate Jews," Anya wrote. "Genocide describes, for example, the mass slaughter of 3 million Biafrans in Nigeria. Genocide also describes what the state of Israel is doing to people of Palestine." Anya went on to argue that Israeli citizens and "Jewish people around the world" are uniting in opposition to the war on Hamas—more than 80 percent of American Jews support the war, according to a December poll, while 88 percent of Jewish Israelis approve of the Israeli military's performance since Oct. 7.
Lee's support for Anya—her Thursday post lauded the professor's tenure announcement as "Big news!"—comes as the congresswoman navigates a difficult primary race against a Democratic challenger, Bhavini Patel, who has attacked Lee's anti-Israel views.
Big news! Congratulations to Dr. Anya and a Happy Black History Month to us all! https://t.co/D3qmzPVdE3
— Summer Lee (@SummerForPA) February 1, 2024
Lee, a member of the left-wing "Squad" who was elected in 2022 with support from the Democratic Socialists of America, was one of just nine Democrats to vote against a bipartisan resolution "standing with Israel as it defends itself against the barbaric war launched by Hamas and other terrorists." Lee, like Anya, has also accused Israel of conducting "a genocide of innocent Gazans, half of them children." In October, she falsely accused Israel of bombing a Gazan hospital, which she called "reprehensible and a war crime."
Lee's vote and anti-Israel rhetoric prompted criticism from Rabbi Seth Adelson of Pittsburgh's Congregation Beth Shalom, who said he was "disappointed" Lee was not "more proactive" in supporting her district's Jewish community. Forty Jewish leaders in Pittsburgh similarly skewered Lee in a November letter, which called on the congresswoman to "exercise better leadership and join her colleagues in upholding the moral obligation for Israel to protect its citizens against Hamas."
Patel, a Pittsburgh-area borough councilwoman, has also attacked Lee's anti-Israel stance, which she says "keeps coming up" in conversations with voters.
"Something that keeps coming up in my conversations is that congresswoman Lee continues to equivocate," Patel told the New York Times in October. "We're responding to something that is evil—the murder, rape, kidnapping of children, men, women, and grandparents. There shouldn't be any equivocation on this." Patel went on to accuse Lee of stoking "hatred and anti-Semitism" in a fiery candidate forum held last month.
Lee—whose district includes the Tree of Life synagogue, the site of the nation's deadliest anti-Semitic attack—did not return a request for comment, while Anya declined to answer questions about her relationship with Lee. "F— you," the professor wrote in an email to the Washington Free Beacon.
Anya publicly supported Lee's 2022 campaign, and Lee took a photo with Anya at a campaign event held shortly after her election. Carnegie Mellon later issued a statement celebrating Lee's "historic swearing-in."
It’s #ElectionDay and I’m so excited to vote for *TWO* Black women progressives. Summer Lee for US Congress and La’Tasha D. Mayes for Pennsylvania State Representative. Bonus joy: La’Tasha is an out lesbian who ran on reproductive justice! Taking my children with me to the polls. pic.twitter.com/CV0f7jyReu
— Uju Anya (@UjuAnya) November 8, 2022
"We've never had a US representative so closely aligned with our progressive values," Anya said in December 2022. "Excited for Summer Lee's leadership and plans to move Pennsylvania and our Congressional District 12 forward."