By Ken Stone
Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, the harsh critic of Israel, will speak at a Town Hall meeting Saturday in San Diego and visit with local groups Sunday, says the sponsoring Council on American-Islamic Relations chapter.
But the location won’t be made public. Only paid registrants — and some media outlets — will learn the address, organizers said Tuesday.
“We have to protect our community. The white supremacists are a real threat,” said Dustin Craun, executive director of CAIR’s San Diego chapter.
Last week, the event advertised as “A Conversation with Rep. Rashida Tlaib” was approved for Westview High School one day and revoked the next by the Poway Unified School District, citing scheduled maintenance of the school’s Performing Arts Center.
The timing was suspicious to CAIR, since a letter to Poway school officials had just been been sent by the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, alleging that Tlaib was anti-Semitic on account of her criticism of Israel and her talk should be canceled to spare a community recovering from April’s killing at Chabad of Poway.
On Wednesday, Craun said in a news release: “Congresswoman Tlaib’s message for our community echoes her work in Congress: to insist that all of us – Muslims, Jewish people, and all vulnerable communities — are only safe if we protect each other, and we must resist all forms of racism together.
“Our community’s experience could not make it more clear that the same white supremacist violence that threatens Jews, also threatens Muslims.
“The moral to the story is of course Islamophobia will not cancel Rep. Tlaib’s visit to San Diego.’
Craun said Tlaib would cover issues she’s passionate about — including impeachment (she was an early advocate), issues facing the Muslim community (she’s Palestinian-American), immigration topics like family separation and her efforts to pass a bill that would prevent deportation of U.S. military veterans.
Tlaib — who was initially barred by Israel from visiting her 90-year-old Palestinian grandmother — also is set to meet with various groups during her weekend visit, he said.
Craun said CAIR received offers for venues after news of the Westview High School revocation became public. He says he’s been in touch with Poway school officials as well, noting that bullying of Muslim students has been a problem.
Poway schools didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
- Related: Rep. Rashida Tlaib Talk at Westview High School ‘Bumped’ by Poway Schools
But Daniel Piedra, executive director of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, told Times of San Diego that his group had no plans to buy tickets.
“We would never protest such an event, nor would we support any such protest,” Piedra said. “Disrupting events is a bush-league tactic of CAIR’s, but unlike them, we respect the First Amendment. We wish CAIR a safe and successful event with Rep. Tlaib.”
The $50-a-person registration page says of the 7-9 p.m. event: “Over the last two years Rep. Rashida Tlaib and her colleagues in ‘The Squad’ have brought their voices to D.C. and have created progressive leadership on issues ranging from immigration reform, to climate change, to the impeachment of President Trump and BDS. Join us in welcoming Rep. Rashida Tlaib to San Diego as we discuss the most important issues of our times We will email you the location of the event.”
Updated at 7:58 a.m. Dec. 18, 2019.
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