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US House votes to censure Palestinian-American lawmaker over her criticism of Israel

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat, speaks during a pro-Palestinian rally at the National Mall in Washington, October 20, 2023. (Photo by AP)

The US House of Representatives has voted to censure Democratic lawmaker Rashida Tlaib – the only Palestinian American in Congress – over her condemnation of Israel’s brutal onslaught against the besieged Gaza Strip.

The House voted 234-188 late on Tuesday to censure Tlaib, a progressive congresswoman from Michigan, in a rebuke of her recent comments about the Israeli war on Gaza.

Tlaib said in a post on her X social media account on Friday that US President Joe Biden supported the Israeli genocide of the Palestinian people, warning that he would lose Arab American and Muslim support in the 2024 election.

The House members in favor of the censure resolution accused Tlaib of promoting anti-Semitic rhetoric and claimed that she had “levied unbelievable falsehoods about our greatest ally, Israel, and the attack on October 7.”

In remarks on the House floor, Tlaib defended her criticism of the US president and Washington’s unflinching support for Tel Aviv, urging lawmakers to join in calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

“I will not be silenced and I will not let you distort my words,” Tlaib said. “No government is beyond criticism. The idea that criticizing the government of Israel is anti-Semitic sets a very dangerous precedent, and it’s been used to silence diverse voices speaking up for human rights across our nation.”

Sounding unrepentant in her speech, the three-term Palestinian-American congresswoman grew emotional as she said, “I can’t believe I have to say this, but Palestinian people are not disposable.”

Tlaib underlined, “What I don’t understand is why the cries of Palestinians sound different to you all. We cannot lose our shared humanity. I hear the voices of advocates in Israel and Palestine across America and around the world for peace.”

Censure is a symbolic move where the member who has been censured is called to the House floor as the Speaker of the House reads the text of the measure.

Tlaib, who was first elected in 2018 and is a prominent member of “the Squad” of progressive female lawmakers, has been an outspoken critic of the United States’ staunch backing of Israel.

Tlaib also provoked criticism last week by defending the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which is commonly featured in pro-Palestinian campaigns, signaling a call for a Palestinian state extending from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, the territory controlled by the Israeli regime. 

The death toll from Israeli war surpassed 10,000 on Monday, one month after the occupying regime waged the war on the besieged area, after Palestinian resistance groups carried out the surprise Operation Al-Aqsa Storm in response to decades-long Israeli atrocities.

The regime has also cut off one of the most densely-populated places in the world from basic supplies, such as water, electricity, and fuel. Shortage of medical supplies and food has left 2.3 million Palestinians at risk of starvation.

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