Commissioner accused of comparing mayor to Hitler
A rookie commissioner from a South Florida beach city is facing calls for her resignation after she called newly elected Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib a “danger” and said the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress may decide to become a “martyr and blow up Capitol Hill.”
From Washington to South Florida, the post has been called “indefensible” and “racist.”
“That’s terrible,” Tlaib said when informed of the Facebook post by the Miami Herald. She said the comments were part of a national campaign to penalize supporters of Palestinian rights.
Five days after Tlaib made national headlines for a vow to help fellow Democrats “impeach the mother------,” a reference to President Donald Trump, Hallandale Beach commissioner Anabelle Lima-Taub signed an online petition to remove Tlaib from office. She then shared it on Facebook along with racially charged comments first reported by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
“Proudly signed,” the first-term South Florida commissioner wrote when she shared a “We the People” petition on Facebook. “A Hamas-loving anti-Semite has NO place in government! She is a danger and [I] would not put it past her to become a martyr and blow up Capitol Hill.”
On Tuesday, the D.C.-based civil rights group Muslim Advocates called for Lima-Taub to resign. “Any politician who would spout this kind of vile anti-Muslim rhetoric is clearly not fit to govern,” wrote Muslim Advocates’ public advocacy director Scott Simpson.
Lima-Taub’s fellow commissioners condemned the rhetoric but stopped short of calling for her to resign.
“To say someone might be a terrorist because they are Muslim is wrong,” said Hallandale Beach Commissioner Mike Butler. He said members of all faiths are welcome in the South Florida City.
Lima-Taub ignored critics who called for an immediate apology for the offensive post, and instead justified her actions by pointing to Tlaib’s stance on Israel.
“My issue with Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib is her affiliation with the BDS movement, Hamas, Hezbollah and CAIR,” the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Lima-Taub told the Miami Herald. (BDS refers to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.) Lima-Taub said her support for removing Tlaib from office had little to do with the possible offense Tlaib caused Trump and his supporters.
CAIR-Florida called for Lima-Taub’s immediate resignation after learning of the post. But Tlaib says its about more than just her faith.
“For me this is about the First Amendment and protecting our right to freedom of speech,” Tlaib said.
Tlaib is one of a few outspoken supporters of BDS in Congress. The BDS movement was started more than a decade ago by Palestinians inside the occupied territories and calls for international allies of Israel to boycott certain Israeli institutions in order to put pressure on Israel to adhere to international standards and United Nations resolutions.
The movement, which is largely decentralized, does not take a stance on what a particular solution would look like, regarding one state or two, according to the official BDS website. And while various organizations across the Middle East have voiced support for the movement, there is little evidence that links BDS supporters directly to Hamas and Hezbollah, both U.S.-designated terrorist organizations.
Lima-Taub pointed to a photo that circulated on Twitter last week, which appears to show Tlaib’s congressional office featuring a map of the Middle East with a Post-It note over the state of Israel that reads “Palestine,” and called it “a slap to the face of all Jews.”
Tlaib’s “subscription to the annihilation of Israel and one-state solution eliminating Israel and involving only Palestine, you can see where I was coming from,” Lima-Taub said.
Lima-Taub took to Facebook late Tuesday, after the initial publication of this article, doubling down on her original position and demanding an apology from Tlaib.
“I am offended by anyone who is NOT OFFENDED by Rashida Tlaib’s hateful rhetoric and pro BDS and other radical dangerous views calling for the obliteration of Israel, literally off the face of the map,” she wrote in one of several Facebook rants posted today. “I remain unapologetic for my views that she is a danger to the peace process and demand an apology of her for relabeling Israel as Palestine on a map hanging on her wall in her congressional office.”
There is no evidence that Tlaib put the Post-It there on the map herself.
Tlaib said Lima-Taub’s comments are reflective of a national effort led by Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio to penalize businesses that want to boycott Israel, an effort that Tlaib calls anti-free speech.
“It’s very clear that there’s obviously an agenda on the right to make this more than it is,” Tlaib said. “I am supporting Senator [Bernie] Sanders and the ACLU and others that also support the same position I do, which is freedom of speech is extremely important in our country and we need to value it and support it.”
Rubio led legislation that would allow local governments to counter-boycott businesses that boycott Israel.
“I believe by definition BDS is anti-Semitic,” Rubio told The Herald on Tuesday. “I believe anti-Israel policies is a 21st-century version of anti-Semitism disguised as foreign policy and economic warfare. It is in essence an effort to destroy the economy of the Jewish state.”
Rubio, who traded barbs on social media with Tlaib last week, said he did not support Lima-Taub’s comments about Tlaib bombing the Capitol.
“I don’t believe supporting BDS means you support bombing anything,” Rubio said. “I don’t know who this commissioner was or why they said it. I don’t have to agree with that statement to believe that what she [Tlaib] tweeted last week was a phraseology often used in conjunction with anti-Semitism, the notion of dual loyalties and the like.”
Rubio’s bill, the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act, failed when 43 Democrats voted against it. He plans to keep pushing the proposal, arguing that some Democrats didn’t support it because the bill wouldn’t end the ongoing government shutdown.
In Florida, Lima-Taub is in the hot seat for her comments.
Hallandale Commissioner Michele Lazarow called the statement a “black eye for Hallandale Beach,” and demanded an apology. Lazarow, like much of the Hallandale Beach community is also Jewish and has her own critiques of Tlaib’s positions on Israel, said that does not justify Lima-Taub’s comments.
“Though I have major issues with some of Congresswoman Tlaib’s political views, those issues are resolved through elections and debate, not by promoting a racist stereotype that all Muslims are terrorists,” Lazarow wrote in a statement.
Emgage Florida, a nonpartisan nonprofit that focuses on increasing civic engagement in the Muslim community, condemns Lima-Taub’s comments.
“That level of racism and bigotry has no place in Florida Politics,” Emgage Florida State Director Vetnah Monessar wrote. “Muslims are part of the fabric of this country. We demand that Commissioner Taub apologize to her constituents and the general public.”
On Tuesday, CAIR-Florida put out a statement strongly condemning Lima-Taub’s Facebook post, and calling for her immediate resignation.
“Holding a public office comes with great responsibilities. Xenophobic stereotypes must not be embraced by any elected official,” said the statement published by CAIR-Florida. “Her un-American, xenophobic statements establish that she is unfit to hold the Commissioner’s seat.”
The Facebook post and petition were removed from Lima-Taub’s Facebook after reporters began asking questions, according to the Sun Sentinel. However, other posts remain public in which the Hallandale Commissioner calls Tlaib a “worthless woman” and “abhorrent” politician.
This is not the first — or even the second — time Lima-Taub has courted controversy. Last year, the commissioner made headlines by comparing then-Mayor Keith London to Adolf Hitler and Fidel Castro. She then defended the comments and never apologized. (A few months earlier, London had bizarrely accused Lima-Taub of profiting from bleaching her anus.)
Lima-Taub is also well-known for often offensive Facebook rants. In a recent New Year’s Eve post about her neighbors, Lima-Taub wished “these f’ckers a certain fate,” calling them “jerks” with “small gonads” for lighting off fireworks that frightened her dogs.