Hallandale Beach voted Wednesday night to condemn one of its city commission members over remarks she made on social media that denigrated the first Palestinian-American woman elected to the U.S. Congress.
In a 3-2 vote, the commission officially condemned the comments of Commissioner Anabelle Lima-Taub who said in a Facebook post that Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat from Detroit, might become “a martyr and blow up Capitol Hill.” Tlaib is one of the first of two Muslim women who was elected to Congress in November.
Lima-Taub has remained unapologetic for the viral Facebook post, stating Tlaib’s support for boycotting Israel equates her with terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah.
But Commissioner Michelle Lazarow, who sponsored the resolution condemning Lima-Taub, joined with Vice Mayor Sabrina Javellana, who co-sponsored the resolution, and Commissioner Mike Butler to reprimand their colleague for her “bigotry” and creating an unsafe environment for Hallandale Beach’s Muslim community.
“This controversy has brought out hate like I have never seen before,” said Lazarow. “It has also brought about political threats.
“To those who support my colleague’s hateful remarks, I am not worried about losing your vote in the 2020 election. My dignity is worth far more to me,” Lazarow said.
Lima-Taub and Mayor Joy Adams voted against the measure. Many in the crowd expressed contempt for the resolution.
Hundreds of people came out to speak out at the meeting. Some condemned what they called hate speech. Others encouraged Lima-Taub, who started the meeting by announcing that her life was in danger. She blamed other members of the commission who had vociferously rebuked her statements.
Others who spoke at Wednesday’s meeting prior to the vote said it was Lima-Taub who was creating a dangerous situation — for Muslims and people of color in Hallandale Beach and across the country — with her calling Tlaib a potential terrorist.
“You have crossed lines of white supremacy. You have activated a dark side,” said Rasha Mubarak, of the Young Florida Democrats.
Adams struggled to control the crowd of Lima-Taub’s supporters who flooded City Hall. She was forced to call a 10-minute recess after Mubarak was drowned out by boos and hisses from others in the audience. Adams offered no position on Lima-Taub’s comments, and reduced the controversy to what she deemed a petty argument between Lima-Taub and Lazarow.
During the break, Mubarak said she did not feel safe in the commission chambers, but was determined to speak out. She and others who spoke against Lima-Taub had to be escorted from the room by police.
Throughout the night, Lima-Taub maintained it was her life that was in the most danger. Lima-Taub said she had received death threats from a Hamas-affiliated person after Lazarow, in her resolution, called Lima-Taub “Islamophobic” and hateful.
“Tonight may very well be my last night alive,” Lima-Taub said during the commission meeting.
She said if she is found dead in future days, she holds Lazarow and her political consultant Evan Ross personally responsible. Several people turned around to look at Ross, one person even putting up his thumb and forefinger mimicking a gun and pulling the trigger.
“Anabelle Lima-Taub will say anything to distract from her hate speech and promotion of bigotry,” Ross said in response. “She will blame everyone and everything. What she won’t do is take responsibility for her own actions. I’m proud to stand with the Anti-Defamation League in opposing hate.”
Lima-Taub’s comments were denounced by many civil rights organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The commission chamber was packed with Lima-Taub’s supporters who had been rallying outside City Hall for most of the afternoon. The group included people with a wide range of politics including those who support Israel and denounce the boycott movement against Israel for its treatment of Palestinians.
Others said they supported Lima-Taub’s First Amendment rights.
Lima-Taub’s group of supporters also included controversial Internet personality Laura Loomer, who was recently kicked off Twitter for anti-Muslim comments and has been banned from Uber and Lyft for complaining that she couldn’t find a non-Muslim driver.
“I’m already taking BS for you,” said Lima-Taub before hugging Loomer prior to the meeting. Loomer had called out her supporters to Hallandale Beach in a Facebook post Tuesday.
“ATTENTION IF YOU LIVE IN FLORIDA!!!!” Loomer wrote. “We need back up to protest a Jihadi mob.”
Several local Muslim organizations called a protest, but many did not stick around to speak at the meeting. Mubarak said several young Palestinian women left after being harassed by Lima-Taub’s supporters outside City Hall.
A group of people asking for Lima-Taub’s resignation tried to hold a news conference prior to the commission meeting, only to be heckled by the commissioner’s supporters.
“We are here to say clearly that in Hallandale Beach, in South Florida, across America, hate is not accepted,” said Ammar Ahmed, the South Florida Director of Emgage. “We want an apology ... to have a recant of everything she said.”
Meanwhile, dozens of people holding Israeli flags, amid signs calling Tlaib a terrorist, gathered outside City Hall.
Yakov Tarshish, who was holding an Israeli flag, tried to stop those speaking, including some of whom identified as being Jewish.
“You are an embarrassment to Judaism,” he said.
Although Lima-Taub has said her comments were specific to Tlaib’s views on Israel, not everyone saw the distinction.
“This is about her [Tlaib’s] identity, the way she prays,” Mubarak said. “And we find commissioner Lima-Taub’s comments repulsive, disgusting and unproductive. As you can see, it’s creating chaos.”