The eldest of 14 children, Rashida Tlaib was born to Muslim parents on July 24, 1976 in Detroit, Michigan. Her mother hailed from a region near the West Bank city of Ramallah, and her father was born in an Israeli suburb outside of Jerusalem. Tlaib earned a BA in Political Science/Government from Wayne State University …
The eldest of 14 children, Rashida Tlaib was born to Muslim parents on July 24, 1976 in Detroit, Michigan. Her mother hailed from a region near the West Bank city of Ramallah, and her father was born in an Israeli suburb outside of Jerusalem.
Tlaib earned a BA in Political Science/Government from Wayne State University in 1998, and a JD from Thomas Cooley Law School in 2004. She subsequently found employment as a social worker before taking jobs at the International Institute of Metro Detroit, the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, and the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice — where a majority of her co-workers were, by Tlaib’s description, “pretty much socialists” whom she “love[d].”
Tlaib entered the world of politics in 2004 as an intern to Michigan State Representative Steve Tobocman. In 2008 she was the Arab-American outreach coordinator for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in Michigan. Later that year, Tlaib herself was elected, as a Democrat, to the Michigan House of Representatives, where she would serve from 2009-15.
Tlaib has cultivated noteworthy ties to a number of Islamist organizations. In 2009 she received a Community Service Award from the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). In March 2010 she praised CAIR for its “invaluable” and “vital” “advocacy efforts” on behalf of “those who don’t have the resources to defend themselves.” In her 2010 congressional re-election campaign, Tlaib received strong support from the Arab American Political Action Committee. In 2013-14, she received numerous financial donations from individuals affiliated with CAIR, the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Students Association (MSA), and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). In 2014 she spoke at a CAIR banquet in Los Angeles, and at the annual joint conference of the Muslim American Society (MAS) and the Islamic Circle of North America. And in a January 2015 tweet, Tlaib noted approvingly that the head of Islamic Relief USA – a branch of Islamic Relief Worldwide, which had recently been designated as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates – had come to Detroit to discuss “water relief from Gaza to Detroit.”
In an October 2015 tweet, Tlaib linked to an article in The Nation lauding Black Lives Matter activists in Chicago for supporting “a Palestinian woman threatened with deportation.” The woman in question was Rasmea Odeh, a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist who had played a central role in a deadly 1969 terrorist bombing in Jerusalem, and had committed felonious immigration fraud in the U.S. years later.
In a November 2017 tweet, Tlaib criticized U.S. Senator Kamala Harris for having met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss cooperation between California and Israel on water management, agriculture, and cyber-security issues. “I am one of your supporters & donors,” Tlaib told Harris. “Hoping you are still part of the resistance to racism against ALL people. This picture [of Netanyahu] says otherwise.”
In December 2017, Tlaib shared a Facebook post in which Muslim activist Linda Sarsour had expressed support for Ahed Tamimi, a 17-year-old Palestinian girl whom Israeli authorities had recently incarcerated for assaulting an IDF soldier and proclaiming that “everyone must” attack Israeli Jews by means of “stabbings, martyrdom-seeking operations [i.e. suicide bombings], throwing stones.” “Absolutely inhumane to target a young girl for fighting against racist policies,” wrote Tlaib. “Her voice should be lifted.”
Tlaib is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which in 2018 endorsed her campaign to fill Michigan’s 13th Congressional District seat in the U.S. House, which John Conyers had vacated when he resigned in December 2017. At a February 2018 DSA meeting in Detroit, Tlaib was asked if she planned to openly “run as a socialist.” She replied: “Yeah, um it’s, it’s — we got to win.” Tlaib then lamented that “people have tainted that word,” and said she saw it as her duty to proudly “explain [that] the labor movement was founded on socialism.”
Other supporters of Tlaib’s congressional bid included J Street, Michael Moore, and Linda Sarsour, the latter of whom spent a day campaigning door-to-door with Tlaib. By August 2018, Tlaib had raised more than $30,000 from Islamists affiliated with CAIR, MPAC, MSA, and MAS.
During the 2018 campaign as well, Tlaib proposed amending the Civil Rights Act to allow lawsuits based on “disparate impact” rather than requiring plaintiffs to prove that they were victims of deliberate discrimination.
After Tlaib narrowly won the Democratic primary on August 7, she draped herself in a Palestinian flag while celebrating with her supporters. In her victory speech, she promised to “fight back against every racist and oppressive structure that needs to be dismantled.”
When she was subsequently asked by Great Britain’s Channel 4 News if she planned to vote against U.S. military aid to Israel, Tlaib responded: “Absolutely, if it has something to do with inequality and not access to people having justice…. If you’re going to be a country that discriminates on somebody solely based on their faith, solely based on their skin color … I will be using my position in Congress so that no country, not one, should be able to get aid from the U.S. when they still promote that kind of injustice….”
When asked to describe a proper “solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Tlaib replied: “One state. It has to be one state. Separate but equal does not work…. This whole idea of a two-state solution, it doesn’t work.”
On November 6, 2018, Tlaib won her congressional election with 84.6% of the vote. CAIR founder and CEO Nihad Awad congratulated Tlaib on her “historic victory of becoming the first Muslim and Palestinian woman in the U.S. Congress.”
Further Reading: “Rashida Tlaib” (Keywiki.org, Votesmart.org, & Ballotpedia.org); “Under Trump, a Growing Number of Metro Detroit Millennials Are Turning to Socialism” (Detroit Metro Times, 2-21-2018); “Rashida Tlaib Goes to Washington (Daily Caller, 9-18-2018); “Michigan Congressional Candidate Pushes an Anti-Israel Agenda” (The Algemeiner, 8-6-2018); “Tlaib Proposes Changes to Civil Rights Act” (Detroit News, 7-11-2018); “Newly Elected Socialist Muslim Rep. Rashida Tlaib Wore ‘Palestinian’ Flag at Primary Victory Celebration” (Robert Spencer, Jihad Watch, 11-7-2018); “Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib Says She Will ‘Absolutely’ Vote Against Aid to Israel” (Washington Free Beacon, 8-14, 2018); “Our New Muslim Representatives” (Robert Spencer, Frontpagemag.com, 11-7-2018).
- In July 2010, Tlaib was a panelist hearing testimony from CAIR-Michigan representatives at a special town hall meeting on racial profiling in Detroit. Other panelists included Center for Constitutional Rights Executive Director Vincent Warren, and officials of the ACLU-Michigan and the Mexican American Legal Defense Educational Fund.
- Tamimi’s aunt, Ahlam Tamimi, was the mastermind of an August 2001 suicide bombing that killed 15 people and wounded 130 in the Sbarro Pizzeria in Jerusalem.
- Another noteworthy supporter of Tlaib’s 2018 campaign was the People For the American Way Action Fund.