Accuracy in Media

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) is a prominent progressive lawmaker who is active on Twitter and a mainstream media darling, with many television interviews and appearances as a vocal member of the anti-Trump movement. Due to his status and party affiliation, the mainstream media has overlooked his dual loyalty charge against the U.S. ambassador to Israel.

The ambassador, David Friedman, had criticized Democratic Party lawmakers Reps. Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.) for their pro-Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement stances. Their pro-BDS views led to the Israeli government banning them from entering the country on a planned visit. Lieu took issue with Friedman’s statement on Twitter, whose statement partly reads as follows:

“The United States supports and respects the decision of the Government of Israel to deny entry to the Tlaib/Omar Delegation.”

“The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel is not free speech. Rather, it is no less than economic warfare designed to delegitimize and ultimately destroy the Jewish State. Israel properly has enacted laws to bar entry of BDS activists under the circumstance present here, and it has every right to protect its borders against those activists in the same manner as it would bar entrants with more conventional weapons.”

Lieu accused Friedman, a Jewish-American, of having dual loyalties. In a since-deleted tweet, Lieu said:

“Dear @USAmbIsrael: You are an American. Your allegiance should be to America, not to a foreign power. You should be defending the right of Americans to travel to other countries. If you don’t understand that, then you need to resign.”

Friedman responded and said that his “head is spinning from hypocrisy” as he viewed the tone of Lieu’s tweet as anti-Semitic.

Dual loyalty is an example of anti-Semitic rhetoric, which claims that Jews have two conflicting loyalties between the state of Israel (and Judaism) and their home country. But, when Lieu repeated the dual loyalty charge on CNN, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer did not question the anti-Semitic undertones of that accusation. Neither did any mainstream media outlet on their websites, except for Newsweek.

Lieu deleted the offending tweet and apologized, saying:

“It has been brought to my attention that my prior tweet to @USAmbIsrael raises dual loyalty allegations that have historically caused harm to the Jewish community. That is a legitimate concern. I am therefore deleting the tweet.”

But, as Legal Insurrection’s Stacey Matthews pointed out, Lieu does know the anti-Semitic undertones of the dual loyalty charge. In July 2019, Lieu wrote an opinion editorial which referred to the divisive nature of the accusation, in addition to a February 2019 statement that condemned Rep. Omar’s offensive statement that Jewish people are “all about the Benjamins.”

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