The stabbing death of a Detroit synagogue board president, Samantha Woll, has sparked criticism of Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who has been under mounting scrutiny after blaming Israel for a deadly strike on a Gaza hospital. Woll, who has led the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue since 2022, was found stabbed multiple times outside her home in Detroit’s Lafayette Park neighbourhood. A motive has not been determined, and no suspect has been made public as of Saturday evening.
The news of Woll’s slaying sparked fresh backlash against Tlaib on social media, with people blasting the Michigan Democrat over a post she shared last week on X, formerly Twitter. Tlaib blamed Israel for the deadly blast at the Al-Ahli Arab Baptist Hospital in Gaza City on Tuesday that claimed nearly 500 lives, according to Palestinian officials. Israel, Hamas, and the militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad have all denied responsibility for the devastating strike. While it is unclear if Woll’s death has anything to do with the conflict in the Middle East, social media users accused Tlaib of inciting violence.
Laura Loomer, a far-right political activist and supporter of former President Donald Trump, lashed out at the Democratic lawmaker, saying that Woll’s death was “likely incited” by Tlaib’s comments. Ellie Cohanim, a former Deputy Special Envoy to Combat Antisemitism under the Trump administration, blamed Tlaib for “spreading a blood libel” in a post on X. Avraham Berkowitz also took to X to call out Tlaib, saying that if Samantha was Muslim, @RashidaTlaib @RepRashida would have already accused and blamed Jews of her murder.
Tlaib, while referring to Woll as a “friend,” posted a tribute to the Jewish synagogue leader on Facebook Saturday evening. “My friend and a member of our organising community, Sam Woll, was murdered,” Tlaib said in the post. “Our community is devastated, and we are shocked. Please keep her family and our community in your prayers.” Sam Dubin, a spokesperson for the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), told Newsweek that the advocacy group is “absolutely heartbroken” over Woll’s death. Dubin said Woll, who was a JCRC member and a board member of the Jewish Historical Society of Michigan, was an “incredible leader” and a “passionate Muslim-Jewish bridge builder.”
Tlaib, who is of Palestinian descent, has been under increasing scrutiny since Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel on October 7, with fellow lawmakers demanding she condemn the militant group’s actions. As of Saturday, more than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, and an estimated 4,000 Palestinians in Gaza have died. Shortly after the attack on Southern Israel earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country is “at war” and cut off food, fuel, electricity, and medicine supplies into Gaza, home to an estimated 2.3 million people, including roughly 600 Palestinian-Americans.