Wind in The Tower

Wind in The Tower

Fact Check: Claims Rep. Rashida Tlaib Insisted Progressives Reject Israel’s Right to Exist is Misinformation.

by W. Bernell Brooks lll on 11/15/23

From: The by Ryan Grim

The hallmark of our contemporary social media era is the penchant for misinformation to circulate rapidly through political discourse, be endorsed by authority figures, and adopted unquestioningly by swathes of people before fact-checkers are able to ascertain the credibility of the claims.

On Monday, the Anti-Defamation League issued a serious allegation against a Democratic member of Congress that was immediately picked up by news outlets and high-profile political figures. It warrants a thorough examination.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, made the following claims on Twitter in reference to Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.: “In one sentence, [Tlaib] simultaneously tells American Jews that they need to pass an anti-Zionist litmus test to participate in progressive spaces even as she doubles down on her #antisemitism by slandering Israel as an apartheid state.”

Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., among others, piled on, elaborating on the claim: “I fundamentally reject the notion that one cannot support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state and be a progressive.”

Other members of Congress — Reps. Ted Deutch, Haley Stevens, and Juan Vargas, among them — have made similar public comments.

We take these claims in two parts.

First, did Tlaib — who is Palestinian American — say that progressives must pass “an anti-Zionist litmus test to participate in progressive spaces”? And did she say that “one cannot support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state and be a progressive”?

To test these claims, The Intercept identified and reviewed the comments in question. According to a video of Tlaib’s remarks at a Palestine Advocacy Day event, she made the following assertion: “I want you all to know that among progressives, it becomes clear that you cannot claim to hold progressive values yet back Israel‘s apartheid government.”

Tlaib does not say that in order to hold progressive values one must oppose Zionism or assert that Israel has no right to exist. The Intercept reached out to Greenblatt and Nadler for additional information that would support their claims but did not receive any.

Notably, Greenblatt refers to “one sentence,” which indicates that the entirety of Greenblatt’s claim ought to be supported by the sentence in question.

Tlaib explicitly refers to “Israel’s apartheid government” in her remarks, making clear that it is the apartheid nature of the government that she stands in opposition to, not the idea of an Israeli state.

In order for Greenblatt’s or Nadler’s claims to be accurate, they would have to assume that the only conceivable Israeli system of government is an apartheid government, and therefore rejection of apartheid is equal to the rejection of any Israeli government. Neither Greenblatt nor Nadler have made such a claim and, indeed, such a claim would be absurd. It is entirely conceivable that Israel could organize itself as a Jewish democratic state that offers equal rights to all its residents. A system of apartheid is not the only available option.

We therefore rate the claim that she established a litmus test over the existence of the state of Israel, or support of Zionism, as false.

Such misinformation easily circulates in Washington. On Wednesday afternoon, a reporter at the U.S. Capitol asked Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., to respond to a claim of Tlaib’s that one cannot both support Israel and be progressive, while leaving out the critical detail of the apartheid government. Ocasio-Cortez declined to comment, finding the reporter’s phrasing suspect. It turned out the question had indeed distorted Tlaib’s claim.

Now let’s examine Greenblatt’s second claim, that Tlaib “slander[ed] Israel as an apartheid state.” To test Greenblatt’s claim, we examined reviews conducted by human rights organizations with a proven track record of analyzing such questions.

To

Black Lives Matter's Decentralized Leadership Debacle: Ten Years Later

by W. Bernell Brooks lll on 10/26/23

“The BLM movement claimed to have no leaders, embracing the 'horizontalism' of its Occupy predecessor. But all movements have leaders; someone or some group of individuals are deciding that this or that thing will or will not happen; someone decides how this or that resource is used or not used; someone decides whether this or that meeting will or will not happen. The issue is not whether there are leaders, it is whether those leaders are accountable to those they represent.”

                                        Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
                                        June 8, 2020


"I must acknowledge the missteps and the hard-learned lessons of our movement. To become better, more accountable, and more transparent leaders, We — I– must reflect on and address the repercussions of our mistakes.

To this point, the urgency of Black Lives Matter’s work has dictated our form and function. Often, we have operated in “rapid response” — deploying people and resources to stem, both literally and metaphorically, the bleeding in our communities. We have paid dearly for it.

We leapt into the fray with inadequate funds. We have worked off half-drawn blueprints and roadmaps that led to untenable ends. We have exhausted the most self-sacrificing among us without providing adequate time to recover or a fully realized vision for the long haul."

Named BLM's Executive Director in June 2020, at the height of the George Floyd protests, Patrice Cullors issued the first statement in September acknowledging long-standing criticisms of BLM's leadership. Cullors took personal responsibility for the lack of transparency, accountability, and planning. It was too little, too late. Six weeks later she received an open letter from ten BLM chapters and organizers that in part read,  

"It was recently declared that Patrisse Cullors was appointed the Executive Director of the Black Lives Matter Global Network (BLMGN) Foundation. Since then, two new Black Lives Matter formations have been announced to the public: a Black Lives Matter Political Action Committee, and BLM Grassroots. BLM Grassroots was allegedly created to support the organizational needs of chapters, separate from the financial functions of BLMGN. We, the undersigned chapters, believe that all of these events occurred without democracy, and assert that it was without the knowledge of the majority of Black Lives Matter chapters across the country and world." 

BLM's ubiquitous storming of America's political landscape was singularly unique. Black Lives Matter was simultaneously a hashtag signifier, a slogan, the first internet-based mass protest movement, the first Black millennial rising, the 21st Century Black Civil Rights Movement, and the first mass-based Black Feminist/LGBTQ-led movement that vibrated to the rhythms of Intersectionality theory. 

Decentralized leadership emerged as one of BLM’s signature achievements. The argument presented explores how in theory and practice BLM's flawed implementation of its decentralized leadership model led to its descent into periods of political stasis, inconsistency, and some say corrupt practices.  

To be specific, BLM failed to respond to and resource its local chapters and partners’ needs, failed to train local leaders, and failed to develop an internal decentralized structure.  

Thus, dissecting the Black Lives Matter experiment is of paramount importance, particularly given the unwillingness of its former leaders to provide a substantive explanation of the challenges its decentralized "leaderful" and later "leaderless" model encountered.

Princeton Assistant Professor Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor’s recent article, "Five Years Later, Do Black Lives Matter?" provides invaluable insights into the BLM moment. She prefaced her analysis by stating, "The Black left has recoiled from performing a root canal on BLM, preferring instead to spare the patient and its extended family the pain of a truthful extraction."

In her September 2019, Jacobin Magazine article, Yamahtta-Taylor made the following observation regarding BLM leaders’ reluctance to respond to their supporters and skeptics.

"It raises the crucial question of how organizers emerge from a lost battle or even a lost war with more clarity about their experience, the lessons learned, and salvaged relationships that may allow them to fight another day with a better sense of what to do the next time around.”

Thus, a series of valid questions arise; were the shortcomings of BLM's decentralized model mainly attributable to its flawed assumptions, failures of implementation, poor guidance from the BLM's three founders, or some combination of these three factors?
BLM’s egalitarian decentralized prototype was also hailed as a radical break from the single charismatic Black male leadership model of the 60’s Black Power movement. That issue will be examined as well. 

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by W. Bernell Brooks lll on 10/16/23

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Editor's Note: 

The New Black Nationalist Network condemns the U.S. House of Representative's vote to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) on November 7, 2023, for her statements about Israel's War on Gaza. 

Incredibly, Rep. Tlaib was censured for “promoting false narratives regarding the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel and for calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.” 

To excavate the factual matters involved in the censure of Rep. Tlaib, we have reprinted Ryan Grim's article from 

 Misinformation is running amok, and has to be checked, especially when the only Palestinian serving in the U.S. Congress is being excoriated and scapegoated. 

We also want to commend Progressive commentator Katie Halper who was "censored and fired" by the corporate-owned media outlet The Hill over a segment defending Rep. Rashida Tlaib's characterization of Israel as an apartheid state, a position New Black Nationalists agree with. 

The attempt to silence Representative Tlaib is not unlike the governments of England, France, Germany, Austria, and Hungary to impose nationwide bans on protests in support of Palestine altogether. 

Of this, two things can be said. Israel and the U.S. are losing the global messaging war and want to shut down resistance to cover their criminal and inhumane treatment of the Palestinians. The second point is simply that it won't work. 

Rep.Tlaib has addressed the criticisms leveled against her and done so honestly, whether one disagrees with her or not. As for the expression "From the river to the sea," it has come to mean many things to many Palestinian demonstrators in recent protests. Rep. Tlaib stated categorically that, "From the river to the sea is an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate. My work and advocacy is always centered in justice and dignity for all people no matter faith or ethnicity."

That said, Netanyahu's claims Israel will indefinitely occupy Israel militarily and control Gaza on the ground until they decide what kind of autonomy Palestinians will have and what kind of Palestinian leadership is acceptable to Tel Aviv. Meanwhile the continuous illegal settlement of Palestinian land in the West Bank and incessant calls by Israeli leaders to annex the West Bank outright, somehow has a different meaning than Israel controlling historical Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. 

The U.S. Congress attack on Rep. Tlaib is a frontal assault on the Palestinian people and Arab communities. This action assails Black and Brown women, and "The Squad" It is an attack on Rep. Tlaib's congressional district which is unlike any other in the United States.  

The self-described "unbossed"  Rashida Tlaib represents the oldest, most diverse, and largest Muslim American, Arab American, and Arab speaking community of any metropolitan area in the country. Detroit is also 78% Black, the highest percentage of Black residents of any city its size in America.  No American city rivals Detroit's history of radical Black Nationalist organizations and revolutionary movements from the birthplace of the Nation of Islam in the 1930's to the Republic of New Afrika (RNA) in the 1960's. 

As the daughter of Palestinian parents from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Rep. Tlaib, knows intimately what Edward Said meant when he said, "To be identified as a Palestinian is to be viewed as a provocation."

Rep. Tlaib sits well in the tradition of Detroit and its inner-ring suburbs' tradition of resistance, and "unbossed" independence. Her name Rashida translates into "righteous" in Arabic. Let her continue to wear the tradition of her district and the name well.  
Editor W. Bernell Brooks is a native son of Detroit. 

Wind in the Tower 
Wind in the Tower Blog
W. Bernell Brooks lll, Editor
Blog of the New Black Nationalist Network
Fact Check: Claims Rep. Rashida Tlaib Insisted Progressives Reject Israel’s Right to Exist is Misinformation.