Those kinds of remarks, Phillips said, represented “tips of the arrow” — small but devastating offenses that made Jews fearful of a rising tide of anti-Semitism. Phillips told his fellow Minnesota freshman that she had to apologize and said the group should publicly affirm Israel’s right to exist and protect itself.
His words stunned the three Muslim Democrats in the room, as well as some other Jewish members and third-party participants. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), a Palestinian American who is critical of the Israeli government’s treatment of the Palestinians, grew emotional and started to cry as she spoke of her grandmother’s suffering in the West Bank at the hands of Israelis. “She would treat you like a grandson,” she said to Phillips, according to two people in the room…
When the small group convened, tensions emerged almost immediately. A Bend the Arc facilitator made a joke about Jews and money to try to clear the air. But Rep. Jahana Hayes (Conn.), one of the freshman allies invited to join the session, grew serious and asked why the facilitator could talk like that when someone like Hayes could not.
“It’s not okay,” Hayes said this past week when asked about the specific exchange. “These [sorts of jokes] are off-limits. It’s confusing for someone like me who is trying to learn.”