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Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian-American member of US Congress, stands alone and tall

Radiance News Service

Nov. 9, 2023
Rashida Tlaib, the American politician and lawyer who serves as the US Representative for Michigan’s 12th Congressional district, now finds herself isolated and the target of a concerted campaign revolving around her identity and her affirmation of the iconic Palestinian slogan – from the river to the sea.

“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, a mainstay of Palestinian protests, represents the occupied map of Palestine in its original form, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. It is perhaps the most well-known Palestinian slogan in English, heard across the world in solidarity rallies, along with other iconic symbols such as Handhala, the watermelon, the flag, the kuffiyeh and so on.

Now, right-wing and pro-Israel commenters around the world claim that it is a slogan that symbolizes anti-Semitism, a desire to eliminate Jews from the region, and pro-Hamas in nature. Tlaib says that she believes that the phrase is “an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate.”

However, what was more disturbing was that it was not only the Republicans who were after Ms. Tlaib, but even those who shared a party with her. While Rep. Jamie Raskin (Democrat from MD), a Jewish man stood in support of Rashida Tlaib, it was shocking that 22 other Democrats of the US House of Representatives supported the censure motion against her.

The move to censure Tlaib in a resolution introduced by Rep. Rich McCormick, R-Ga., was approved in the House by a vote of 234-188. Most House Republicans voted in favor of the measure along with a handful of House Democrats. The resolution claimed she was “promoting false narratives regarding the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel and for calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.”

An earlier resolution by right-wing Trump supporter and controversial conservative Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene attempted to do the same, but was rejected due to the framing of the resolution.

This comes at a time when Arab and Muslim members of the Democratic Party are increasingly joining calls to refuse to support Joe Biden in the coming national elections unless he commits to a ceasefire. Biden is widely seen to have lost a great deal of trust among some of the core constituents of the Democratic Party, even in an election which sees the primary opponent being Donald Trump.

Rashida Tlaib, however, has not backed down and has committed to her position of advocating for Palestinian freedom. On Tuesday, she spoke passionately in a response to the censure, holding up a picture of her grandmother: “We are human beings just like anyone else. My sity, my grandmother – like all Palestinians – just wants to live her life with freedom and human dignity we all deserve,” she said.

“Speaking up to save lives no matter faith, no matter ethnicity should not be controversial in this chamber. The cries of the Palestinian and Israeli children sound no different to me. What I don’t understand is why the cries of Palestinian children sound different to you all. We cannot lose our shared humanity.”

Censures are rare – only 25 House lawmakers have been censured so far, with Tlaib becoming the 26th. Tlaib has also openly called out President Joe Biden for calling for a ceasefire, including in the form of a video where she criticized him for his open support of the Israeli violence.

 

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