For Peace, Alan Minsky for Mike H., Dr. Bill, Mike F., Janis, Deb, Dan, Kim, Bryan, and Shayna—your PDA National Team
In 2004, we launched Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) to organize for critically important issues including ending wars and occupations. In 2018, PDA endorsed both Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) and Ilhan Omar (MN-5), two young progressive Congressional candidates. Of course, both won their races and are now shaking up Congress with their unapologetic and powerful progressive voices—including their advocacy for peace and human rights.
On Wednesday, near the end of the Michael Cohen hearings, Congresswoman Tlaib didn’t hesitate to call out what she felt were racist tactics by a senior Republican. An imbroglio ensued. Apologies were extended, but no one missed Tlaib’s point: as long as Rashida’s in the House, Republicans beware, your dog whistle racism will be exposed.
A couple of weeks earlier, Congresswoman Omar didn’t pull any punches when she grilled war criminal Elliot Abrams, who has been resurrected from the historical graveyard to be Trump’s U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela.
It was an exemplary moment for all of us who understand the horrible crimes that have been committed in our name as U.S. citizens; and which almost never get acknowledged by any Federal official. Omar’s line of questioning showed that a new day may truly be dawning, one that progressives have long been waiting for, where high officials will be held accountable for U.S. actions abroad.
Representatives Tlaib and Omar are also outspoken advocates for the rights of the Palestinian people; as such they are critical of Israeli State policies. Even before they arrived in Washington, the attacks began–including claims that they are anti-semitic. These charges started well before the controversy that followed a set of Tweets by Rep. Omar.
Let us be clear: We at PDA oppose anti-semitism in all of its forms. 100%. No exceptions. If any congressperson were to engage in anti-semitic activities, or express anti-semitic sentiments, we would lead the chorus of condemnation. In the case of the tweets, Rep. Omar’s language was interpreted as offensive—in a way that she claimed she did not intend—and her apology acknowledged the importance of avoiding any language that could lead to any painful misinterpretation.
Let us be equally clear: We support Rep. Tlaib’s and Rep. Omar’s right to be critical of Israeli state policy whenever merited. It is no secret that millions-upon-millions of people across the world, and in the United States, feel that the Palestinian people are suffering injustices.
Now, two young congresswomen have been elected who will represent this view in Congress, which seems a perfect example of representative democracy in action. We feel the time is long overdue for an honest discussion of realities in Israel/Palestine amongst the American polity, given heavy U.S. involvement in the region.
We applaud Representatives Tlaib and Omar for making this dialogue happen. In the spirit of facilitating a discussion of U.S. policy towards Israel/Palestine, PDA will be hosting a series of house party screenings of the film The Occupation of the American Mind later this month. If you’d like to host a house party or public meetup around this film, please contact Mike Fox. If you can’t host a party or meetup, please pitch in now to support our organizing for peace.
P.S. We’re here to help you make progress in your state and locality! If you need help organizing a new PDA chapter or energizing your existing chapter, please contact PDA Field Coordinator Dan O’Neal. Join the PDA Phone Team making easy, effective calls from your own home with Mike “Phone Guy” Fox. Also please pitch in whatever you can afford to support our organizing for peace.
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