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“Genocide Denial”: House Votes to Bar State Dept. From Citing Gaza Death Toll

“My colleagues don’t even want to acknowledge that Palestinians exist … not even when they’re dead,” said Rashida Tlaib.

Reps. Jared Moskowitz and Rashida Tlaib at a House Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing in the Rayburn Building on March 20, 2024.

The House overwhelmingly voted to bar the State Department from citing figures from the Gaza Health Ministry, including the death toll from Israel’s genocide, on Thursday in a move that Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) has criticized as an attempt by U.S. officials to hide the extent of the atrocities in Gaza perpetrated by Israel with U.S. support.

The legislation passed 269 to 144, offered as an amendment to the State Department appropriations bill by a bipartisan group of lawmakers: Democrats Jared Moskowitz (Florida) and Josh Gottheimer (New Jersey) and Republicans Mike Lawler (New York), Carol Miller (West Virginia) and Joe Wilson (South Carolina).

Sixty-two Democrats joined 207 Republicans in voting “yes,” while 142 Democrats and two Republicans voted against it. The bill is unlikely to pass into law in its current form, as the White House pledged to veto it this week because of a number of Republican riders attached to it.

The amendment prohibits funding for the State Department to cite Gaza Health Ministry statistics. The Health Ministry’s figures are the only official death counts coming out of Gaza.

Tlaib, the only Palestinian-American in Congress, said that the amendment is “absolutely unconscionable” and only speaks to the total dehumanization of Palestinians on Capitol Hill.

“Since 1948, Mr. Speaker, there has been a coordinated effort, especially in this chamber, to dehumanize Palestinians and erase Palestinians from existence,” Tlaib said in a speech on the House floor. “Today, Mr. Speaker, we are witnessing the Israeli apartheid government carry out a genocide in Gaza, and in real time. And this amendment is an attempt to hide it.”

“Where is our shared humanity in this chamber?” Tlaib continued. “There is so much anti-Palestinian racism in this chamber that my colleagues don’t even want to acknowledge that Palestinians exist at all. Not when they’re alive and now, not even when they’re dead. It’s absolutely disgusting. This is genocide denial.”

In recent months, Zionists, including President Joe Biden, have indeed attempted to politicize the death figures, saying that the ministry cannot be trusted to accurately report the death toll even though many experts and humanitarian groups have said they have always historically been able to rely on the government’s reports. Further, a study by public health experts published in The Lancet medical journal last year analyzing the figures found “no evidence” that the Gaza health officials were inflating the death toll.

According to the latest counts from the ministry, Israel has killed at least 37,718 people in Gaza since October, including more than 15,000 children, and has injured 86,377 more. Many deaths remain uncounted, with thousands of people missing and presumed dead under the rubble, and people dying in places that officials can’t reach or account for.

The amendment is one of many pro-Israel amendments lawmakers are attaching to the appropriations bill, including two that would bar funding in the bill from being used to hold Israel accountable for violations of certain U.S. regulations in the West Bank or Gaza.

As Tlaib emphasized, the attempt to erase the death toll from U.S. officials’ consideration is about more than erasing statistics — it is about erasing each of the lives and stories of the Palestinians Israel has killed and injured, with U.S. assistance, and the families of those whose loved ones have been lost.

At the end of her remarks, Tlaib said she is submitting a list of the names of Palestinians killed into the congressional record. But, as she noted, the list doesn’t even include the names of all the dead who have been identified because it exceeds the text limit for submissions.

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