(July 24, 2022 / JNS) Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) is under fire from Jewish groups and her opponent in the upcoming Missouri Democratic primary for fundraising and associating with an anti-Semitic activist who once said she wants to burn “every Israeli” alive.
Neveen Ayesh, a government relations coordinator at the Missouri chapter of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), where she has worked since 2018, has helped Bush organize several fundraisers. The most recent one was July 16. She has a history of calling for the destruction of Israel and vowing to take part in it.
“I want to set Israel on fire with my own hands & watch it burn to ashes along with every Israeli in it. Call it what you want to call it idc,” Ayesh wrote in 2014.
During Israel’s 2014 “Operation Protective Edge,” Ayesh expressed willingness to join Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, writing, “I should join al-Qassam. Be the first female to join their group lololol #IdLoveToThough.”
On its website, AMP claims to be a “grassroots-based” organization that works with interfaith coalitions comprising Jewish, Christian and other Muslim groups to educate the public “about Palestine and its rich cultural, historical and religious heritage.”
The Anti-Defamation League, however, describes the AMP as an organization touting “extreme anti-Israel views,” which “has at times provided a platform for anti-Semitism under the guise of educating Americans.”
Anti-Semitism watchdog Canary Mission captured screenshots of Ayesh’s now deleted controversial tweets.
In a statement to JNS, Canary Mission said Ayesh’s social-media posts were “some of the very worst” they had archived on their website. They added that they demonstrated “a deep and consistent hatred for Jews, whether they live in the U.S. or Israel.”
“Congresswoman Bush’s tolerance of Ayesh’s anti-Semitism sits in stark contrast to her opponent Missouri State Senator Steve Roberts, who has condemned anti-Semitism in the clearest of terms,” said a spokesperson for the organization.
“Cori Bush has long known that many of her friends and supporters are anti-Jewish bigots,” said Roberts in an open letter shared on his campaign website. “Instead of walking away she decided to cash their checks and hop on their payroll.”
Roberts is running against Bush in the Aug. 2 Democratic primary for Missouri’s first congressional district.
In the letter, Roberts also said that he had a romantic relationship with Ayesh “some years ago.”
“After a period of getting to know each other, her views became clear to me and—unlike Cori Bush—I chose to reject hate and walk away,” he said.
“Cori Bush is openly anti-Semitic, and her hatred and constant demonization of Israel is indefensible and offensive,” Roberts told JNS. “She has repeatedly voted against vital and bipartisan U.S. defense funding for Israel, including replenishing the Iron Dome Missile defense system, which protects hundreds of thousands of innocent civilian lives each year,” he said.
“Cori Bush’s lies about Israel are not only irresponsible and wrong. Her words are dangerous because they help fuel the growing and continued threat of violence against the Jewish community,” Roberts added.
In a 2018 testimony before the Missouri House of Representatives defending the BDS movement, Ayesh said that she had befriended Jewish people, worked with them, and that “some of them” were the “closest people” to her.
According to Ayesh, her “problem is not with the existence of Israel,” adding that she “definitely” does not “condone violence.”
Ayesh’s Twitter history, however, tells a different story.
In November 2012, Ayesh wrote, “I should put a sign on that door that says if your yahoodi [Jewish] please kill yourself cause you aren’t welcome anywhere.”
“#crimesworthyoftherope being a Jew,” “I would love to 7ajer 3al yahood [throw stones at the Jews],” “never trust a Jew,” “#ThingsWeAllHate Jews” and “Jews #WorstThingInTheWorld” were some of her tweets between 2011 and 2014.
Shortly after her 2018 testimony, Ayesh on Facebook commented on a video she shared of her testimony, writing, “the yahood [Jews] just came off really aggressive and kept repeating the same things one after the other.”
Most recently, Ayesh compared the invasion of Ukraine to the struggle of Palestinians, tweeting in February 2022 that many who oppose the actions by the terrorist group Hamas are “encouraging armed resistance by Ukrainian citizens … but somehow have an issue with Palestinians doing the same.”
I hope all of you who “but Hamas” us every time anything Palestine related comes up are self aware to the fact you’re encouraging armed resistance by Ukrainian citizens (who should be rising up against their oppressors) but somehow have an issue with Palestinians doing the same.
— Neveen (@neveen___a) February 26, 2022
Bush’s friendship with the controversial activist goes back to 2017, when the two were photographed together ahead of a panel discussion at the Badil Resource Center in Bethlehem.
In 2020, Ayesh helped set up a fundraiser for the congresswoman, featuring talks by Palestinian American activist Linda Sarsour and Palestinian American House Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)—both proponents of the BDS movement—as guests. Bush also attended the fundraiser.
Bush herself is a vocal supporter of the and a member of “The Squad” alongside Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Tlaib. Bush (D-Mich.) previously described Israel’s relationship with Palestinians as an “apartheid system.” She has also claimed that “black and Palestinian struggles for liberation are interconnected.”
Several Jewish groups expressed concern over Bush’s association with Ayesh, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which questioned whether Bush shares Ayesh’s worldview.
“What part of this anti-Semitic activist did Rep. Bush not know about? Her wish to see Israel and the world’s largest Jewish community burn and be reduced to ashes? Her support for Hamas terrorism?” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, global social action dean at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. “Do these sentiments reflect Cory Bush’s world view? If not say so and return the money!”
Executive director of StopAntisemitism.org Liora Rez told JNS that Bush’s association with Ayesh was “appalling,” adding that Bush “profits off of someone who wants to ‘watch Israel burn to ashes along with every Israeli in it’”
Ayesh responded to news of her past social-media posts in a July 13 Twitter thread criticizing Canary Mission for documenting them, writing she was “being harassed” over “horrible things” that she posted “once upon a time.”
Ayesh justified her tweets, claiming that they “came from a place of both pain & anger,” adding that she now has “learned how to assign academic terminology to what I had witnessed, experienced, & continue to experience at home & abroad.”
First and foremost, I want to take ownership and acknowledge how horrendous the context of those tweets actually are. I was young, dumb, & said horrible things that I never acted on, that I never would act on, because I am not that person.
— Neveen (@neveen___a) July 13, 2022
Neither Ayesh nor the American Muslims for Palestine responded to JNS’s requests for comment.
“Neveen Ayesh wants to run for office one day & her thread is perfect for understanding a classic journey in modern antisemitic linguistics,” said the Canary Mission in response to Ayesh’s thread.
“Your anti-Semitism has been consistent from the time you were ‘young and dumb’ to the present day,” said the watchdog, adding. “You still say ‘horrible things.’ Your non-apology doesn’t work. No one buys it.”
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