Rashida Tlaib event at Arizona State University canceled amid backlash

ASU faced intense pressure to cancel event with Rashida Tlaib.

By Dion. J Pierre, The Algemeiner

Arizona State University (ASU) has canceled an event featuring US Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) that was organized by anti-Israel groups and scheduled to be held on campus on Friday.

An ASU spokesperson told The Algemeiner that organizers of the event — which included ASU’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter — had circumvented school policies for organizing events on campus.

“Organizers of events using ASU facilities must be properly registered with ASU and must meet all university requirements for crowd management, parking, security, and insurance,” the university official said. “In addition, the events must be produced in a way which minimizes disruption to academic and other activities on campus. The event featuring Congresswoman Tlaib was planned and produced by groups not affiliated with ASU and was organized outside of ASU policies and procedures. Accordingly, that event will not take place today on the ASU Tempe campus.”

Groups supportive of the event quickly campaigned to pressure ASU to change course. SJP promoted the Tlaib event on its Instagram page this week, describing the only Palestinian American in Congress as an “unapologetic advocate for justice” and “one of the leading voices in our country today.”

Over the last couple of days, pro-Israel activists and antisemitism watchdog groups had called on ASU to cancel the event. A bipartisan group of Arizona state lawmakers even issued a joint press release saying that, while the congressman has a right to speak on campus, her “extremist, antisemitic views are not welcome in the state of Arizona.” The lawmakers also lambasted SJP, which has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks for blaming Israel for Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israeli communities and rationalizing the Palestinian terror group’s brutality.

Tlaib’s presence on campus could risk further inflaming an already tense situation over the Israel-Hamas war. The lawmaker has received widespread, bipartisan criticism for a wave of virulent comments attacking the Jewish state since the Hamas atrocities last month.

Friday’s event would have been held just three days after anti-Israel demonstrators were accused of throwing landscaping rocks on campus at the second-floor windows of a building, disrupting a student government meeting inside. The student government was considering resolutions expressing support for ASU students impacted by the ongoing Israel-Hamas war and boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) legislation against Israel. Students with several Jewish organizations on ASU’s campus also attended the meeting, which was reportedly ended as the rocks were thrown. Some students with SJP were among the protesters.

According to press reports and video circulated on social media, Jewish students had to be escorted out of the building by university police, who are now investigating the incident.

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After Hamas killed over 1,200 people and abducted more than 240 more as hostages during the Palestinian terror group’s onslaught across southern Israel, Tlaib flew a Palestinian flag outside her home and seemingly blamed the Jewish state for the attack, accusing the country of having an “apartheid system” that fosters “conditions that can lead to resistance.” Tlaib and other members of the so-called “Squad” of far-left progressive House members came under fire for slamming Israel without condemning Hamas by name.

The lawmaker also accused US President Joe Biden of supporting a “genocide” against Palestinians by supporting Israel’s right to defend itself in the wake of the Hamas atrocities.

Late last month, Tlaib refused to apologize after falsely claiming on social media that Israel bombed the Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza as part of its military operations targeting Hamas, which rules the coastal Palestinian enclave. It turned out that a misfired Palestinian rocket from Gaza caused a widely reported explosion near the Al Ahli Hospital, according to intelligence from Israel and several Western governments. Experts agreed that Israel was not responsible, but Hamas and several media outlets continued to falsely blame an Israeli air strike for causing the blast.

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“Both the Israeli and United States governments have long, documented histories of misleading the public about wars and war crimes,” Tlaib said in a statement at the time. “This debate should not distract us from the urgent need for a ceasefire to save innocent lives.” The congresswoman did not mention Hamas.

Earlier this month, Tlaib was censured by her colleagues in the US House of Representatives for her recent spate of anti-Israel comments amid the Jewish state’s war with Hamas. The censure measure accused Tlaib of “promoting false narratives” regarding Hamas’ Oct. 7 invasion of the Jewish state and of “calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.”

Friday would not have been the first time that ASU’s SJP chapter hosted a public figure accused of antisemitism. In 2021, it invited Mohammed El-Kurd to address students, using about $10,000 in student government funding to pay for the event. The Palestinian writer has trafficked in antisemitic tropes, demonized Zionism, and falsely accused Israelis of eating the organs of Palestinians, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Tlaib’s office did not respond to a request for comment for this story.