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Republican Moves to Censure Rashida Tlaib for Call to Stop Israeli Apartheid

Rep. Jack Bergman targets the only person of Palestinian origin in the House with the resolution.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib arrives at a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol Building on September 19, 2023, in Washington, D.C.

A Republican House member has filed a resolution to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan), the only Palestinian in Congress, who is facing a deluge of fierce criticism from both sides of the aisle after she called for an end to Israel’s apartheid in a statement this weekend.

The resolution was filed on Wednesday by Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Michigan), who parroted unverified information from Israeli forces that Hamas had beheaded infants in its attack last week and smeared Tlaib as antisemitic — a longtime tactic of Zionists to discredit those who stand against Israel’s violent occupation of Palestine. Another Republican, Rep. Morgan Luttrell (Texas), joined Bergman in filing the resolution.

“There is no moral equivalence between Israel defending itself and Hamas attacking innocent Israeli civilians,” he said, as Israel launched thousands of bombs at Gazan citizens and cut off electricity and water to the area, which many have noted is a war crime, after decades of committing settler violence against Palestinians. The resolution condemns Tlaib for “calling Israel an apartheid state and insinuating the United States should end its support for the State of Israel.”

On Saturday, Tlaib released a statement mourning the loss of Israelis in Hamas’s attack while also calling on Israel to end their apartheid. “I grieve the Palestinian and Israeli lives lost yesterday, today, and every day,” she said.

“The path to that future must include lifting the blockade, ending the occupation, and dismantling the apartheid system that creates the suffocating, dehumanizing conditions that can lead to resistance. The failure to recognize the violent reality of living under siege, occupation, and apartheid makes no one safer. No person, no child anywhere should have to suffer or live in fear of violence,” she continued. “As long as our country provides billions in unconditional funding to support the apartheid government, this heartbreaking cycle of violence will continue.”

It is telling that Bergman would target the only person of Palestinian origin in the House with the resolution, even though lawmakers like Representatives Cori Bush (D-Missouri) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) put out similar statements.

The resolution also criticizes Tlaib for hosting an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Nakba (meaning “catastrophe” in Arabic) — when Israeli militants violently expelled three quarters of all Palestinians from their homes between 1947 and 1949.

A censure, which requires only a simple majority vote, represents a strong rebuke of a lawmaker and can also come with a removal from committee assignments. It’s unclear if the censure resolution would pass.

However, both Republicans and Democrats alike have been repeating the same line on supporting Israel unconditionally, even as Israeli officials began warning 1.1 million Gazans on Friday to evacuate to the southern part of the region or face relentless bombing that has leveled entire residential neighborhoods. Some are likening this move to a second Nakba, saying it is an escalation of the ongoing genocide that has been happening in plain sight.

Earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that statements like Tlaib’s and Omar’s were “repugnant” — unlike, perhaps to Jean-Pierre, decades of settler violence and apartheid. The few pro-Palestine lawmakers in Congress have faced similar attacks from Republicans and Democrats alike.

As some commentators have pointed out, however, statements like Tlaib’s and Omar’s are not that far from what even some Israelis have been saying about the current attacks; Daniel Levy, a former Israeli negotiator and top adviser to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, told BBC over the weekend that both the Hamas attack and any retaliation involving killing civilians are wrong, as The Nation pointed out.

That American lawmakers would be so roundly condemned for what even some Israeli officials are saying is a show of how strong the pro-Israel propaganda is in the U.S.

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