Mondoweiss / November 25, 2020
Reema Dodin is set to become the first ever Palestinian-American senior White House staffer. Her appointment was attacked by Israel supporters with specific focus on her past pro-Palestine activism.
This week, President-elect Joe Biden named Reema Dodin as a deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs. Dodin, who currently serves as the deputy chief of staff and floor director for Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) will be the first ever Palestinian-American senior White House staffer.
Right-wing attacks against Dodin began as soon as the pick was announced, with specific focus on her past pro-Palestine activism. Fox News dredged up a speech from 2002 where she declared that Palestinian suicide bombers “were the last resort of a desperate people.” Fox also linked Dodin to pro-Palestine protests, “including the occupation of a university building to demand the University of California divest from Israel in 2000.”
The infamous anti-Muslim activist Pam Geller tweeted that Dodin represents “Jihad in the White House.”
“Smearing Reema Dodin is part of greater effort to silence and delegitimize anyone who at some point in their life voiced strong criticism of Israel or engaged in activism in support of Palestinian human right,” tweeted the ACLU’s Jamil Dakwar. “It is particularly troubling when such smears target women of color.”
“Reema is the first to tell you she has grown from her youth in her approach to pushing for change, but her core values of fighting to expand opportunity to building a stronger middle class remain her driving force,” a Biden official told Fox News. “She harnessed her activism into action, becoming a well-respected and trusted leader in the U.S. Senate.”
The attacks on Dodin came shortly after Rep. Rashida Tlaib was criticized for bringing up BDS in the wake of Biden’s selection of Tony Blinken as Secretary of State. “So long as he doesn’t suppress my First Amendment right to speak out against Netanyahu’s racist and inhumane policies,” tweeted Tlaib, “The Palestinian people deserve equality and justice.”
Last week, Mike Pompeo became the first Secretary of State to visit an illegal settlement. At the event, he condemned the BDS movement and declared that anti-Zionism is antisemitism.
“These bigots attacking Rashida Tlaib, Reema Dodin, and others, might as well just come out & say it: they don’t believe that Palestinians have the right to speak, to act, or really to exist in American public life, at all, as Palestinians,” tweeted Director of B’Tselem USA Simone Zimmerman. “We should not normalize this in any way.”
Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss