Congress censures Rep. Rashida Tlaib for ‘calling for the destruction’ of Israel

Rashida Tlaib, a Democratic representative from Michigan and the sole Palestinian-American member of Congress, addressed a demonstration at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Friday, October 20, 2023, to show her support for the Palestinian cause. / Photo by ALI KHALIGH/Middle East Images/AFP via Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Nov 8, 2023 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

The House of Representatives voted Tuesday night to formally censure Detroit Rep. Rashida Tlaib for her remarks “promoting false narratives” regarding the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack and for “calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.”

Introduced by Georgia Republican Rep. Richard McCormick, the resolution to censure Tlaib passed in a 234-188 vote, with 22 Democrats joining nearly all Republicans voting in favor.

Though a censure carries no legal penalties and does not remove Tlaib from office, it signals the serious disapproval of House members for her comments which have been perceived by some advocates as deeply antisemitic.

The comments by Tlaib with which House members took issue concern the recent Hamas terrorist attack that killed 1,400 Israeli citizens and the ensuing war between Israel and surrounding Palestinian and Muslim forces, which has so far killed over 10,000.

The resolution states that “within 24 hours of the October 7 barbaric attack on Jewish citizens of the State of Israel, representing the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust,” Tlaib “defended the brutal rapes, murders, be-headings, and kidnapping — including of Americans — by Hamas as justified ‘resistance’ to the ‘apartheid state.’”

It also states that Tlaib further spread the narrative that Israel intentionally bombed the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, blamed the U.S. for the conflict for its long-time defense support for Israel, and called for the destruction of Israel in various statements including a social media video using the phrase “from the river to the sea,” which the resolution said “is widely recognized as a genocidal call to violence to destroy the state of Israel and its people to replace it with a Palestinian state extending from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.”

The resolution concludes that Tlaib’s statements are “entirely unbecoming of a Member of the House of Representatives.” 

Tlaib, who is a Palestinian-American, remained defiant, claiming in a speech on the House floor that she is being censured for standing for the human rights of Palestinian Muslims in Gaza. 

“Trying to bully or censure me won’t work because this movement for a ceasefire is much bigger than one person. It’s growing every single day,” Tlaib said, going on to say that “the idea that criticizing the government of Israel is antisemitic sets a very dangerous precedent, and it’s being used to silence diverse voices speaking up for human rights across our nation.”

“Palestinian people are not disposable,” she added. “We are human beings just like anyone else.”

McCormick, meanwhile, said that Tlaib’s statements amount to support of a terrorist group and “undermined U.S. interests.” 

“We’ve seen the effects of reprehensible rhetoric of Rep. Tlaib across the nation,” McCormick said. “At the schools and colleges around the country, Jewish students have been forced to be on alert as their antisemitic peers have engaged in disgusting demonstrations chanting antisemitic slogans.” 

McCormick said that recent widespread pro-Palestine demonstrations and protests over the Israel-Hamas conflict have sparked a renewed wave of antisemitism in the U.S. 

He pointed to multiple recent demonstrations at which Jews either were forced to hide for their safety or were killed. 

“At Cooper Union, a private college in New York, Jewish students were forced to hide from pro-Hamas protestors in a library where they feared for their safety,” he said. “At George Washington University, just about a half mile from this building, students broadcast ‘glory to our martyrs’ and ‘free Palestine from the river to the sea,’ on the side of a campus building.” 

McCormick also pointed to Paul Kessler, a 69-year-old Jewish man, who died of his injuries after being struck in the head by a pro-Palestine protestor in Los Angeles on Sunday. 

“Quite frankly I’ve never seen anything like it,” McCormick said, adding that “it is a sad fact that this type of antisemitic hate is being promoted by a small group of members in this body, chiefly Rep. Tlaib, we must hold her accountable.” 

“This war in Israel is affecting everyone,” he added. “Whether it’s innocent Palestinians at risk because of Hamas’ actions or our fellow Jewish-Americans who now have to worry each day about the possibility of an antisemitic attack.” 

The most recent members of the House to receive a formal censure were California Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff earlier in 2023 for knowingly promoting false information regarding President Donald Trump colluding with Russia, and Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar for posting a violent cartoon video depicting New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

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