A Democratic pro-Israel group on Thursday is beginning to air television ads that criticize Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, in the first attempt to hit back on the airwaves at the growing caucus of Israel skeptics within the Democratic Party.
The ad from the group, Democratic Majority for Israel, comes as President Biden and other Democrats face a backlash from the left for their stalwart support of Israel as it bombs and invades the Gaza Strip in retaliation for the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.
Ms. Tlaib, the only Palestinian American in Congress and one of two Muslim women in the House, has been one of the most outspoken progressive supporters of the Palestinian cause. She is one of 18 House Democrats who have co-sponsored a resolution that calls for a cease-fire in the conflict.
The ad, which is set to air on broadcast and cable in Detroit, where Ms. Tlaib’s district is based, denounces Ms. Tlaib’s votes against funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile protection system and against a resolution to condemn the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. The ad argues that the cease-fire legislation “would allow the terrorists to rearm themselves.”
Mark Mellman, a Democratic pollster who is the president of Democratic Majority for Israel, said, “It’s important for us for people who live in the Detroit area to understand what her positions have been and just how out of step and radical her positions have been. .”
He added, “We hope that will lead her to either moderate her positions or perhaps for someone who is more moderate to be interested in the race.”
Mr. Mellman said, however, that his group was “not actively recruiting” candidates to challenge Ms. Tlaib next year.
Democratic Majority for Israel has bought just over $100,000 in advertising on broadcast stations, CNN, MSNBC and CNBC in the Detroit market, according to data compiled by Medium Buying, an advertising firm.
Ms. Tlaib, whose term ends in January 2025, does not have a major primary opponent, and has not faced a well-funded challenger since she was first elected to Congress in 2018. Last year, she took 64 percent of the primary vote against three Democratic rivals. Her district votes overwhelmingly Democratic in general elections.
Richard Czuba, an independent pollster with an expertise in Michigan politics, said Ms. Tlaib was broadly popular in her district, which covers parts of Detroit and its suburbs, including Dearborn, and was known locally for her strong constituent service. Dearborn has a large population of Arab and Muslim Americans.
Ms. Tlaib has said that she voted against US funding for Israel’s military because it had “no conditions on upholding human rights” of Palestinians. She said she voted against the resolution condemning the Oct. 7 attack “because it is a deeply incomplete and biased account of what is happening in Israel and Palestine, and what has been happening for decades.”
An aide to Ms. Tlaib responded to part of the ad that showed a clip of her ignoring a question about unconfirmed reports of “Hamas terrorists chopping off babies’ heads.”
The aide said Ms. Tlaib had ignored the shouted question at the Capitol because it came from a Fox News reporter. “I do not support the targeting and killing of civilians, whether in Israel or Palestine,” Ms. Tlaib said in a statement from her office. “The fact that some have suggested otherwise is offensive and rooted in bigoted assumptions about my faith and ethnicity.”
Several of Ms. Tlaib’s progressive colleagues who have emerged as skeptics of the American alliance with Israel since the war began, including Representatives Summer Lee of Pennsylvania and Jamaal Bowman of New York, are now facing primary challenges from rivals backed by pro-Israel organizations.