On November 7, the United States House of Representatives voted to censure Representative Rashida Tlaib, the only congresswoman of Palestinian descent, for “promoting false narratives about Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7, 2023 and for calling for the destruction of the State of Israel.”
The measure argues that Tlaib’s statement shortly after the start of Operation “Al-Aqsa Flood,” in which she called for an end to “the system of apartheid that creates the stifling and inhumane conditions that can lead to resistance,” constituted a defense of “brutal rapes, murders, beheadings and kidnappings” by Hamas.
A majority of House Republicans and 22 Democrats voted for the resolution to censure Tlaib, which was introduced by Republican Representative Rich McCormick. Many of the 22 Democrats who voted in favor received large donations from the pro-Israel lobby.
The censure of Tlaib was met with public outcry from the Palestine solidarity movement, as well as progressive members of the House, who rushed to support her. “It is outrageous that my colleagues are blatantly trying to silence the only Palestinian-American representative here,” said lawmaker Cori Bush on the House floor.
The resolution also cited Tlaib’s publication of a video containing chants of the popular Palestine solidarity slogan “from the river to the sea” as “a genocidal call for violence to destroy the State of Israel and its people and replace it with a Palestinian state extending from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea”.
Tlaib said the slogan is “an aspirational call to freedom, human rights and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction or hate.”
:: Government of Israel presents plan to control Gaza indefinitely; Brazilians cannot leave the region ::
A censure is essentially a form of public humiliation, in which the Speaker of the House reads a reprimand to a specific legislator. Censors are rare, with only 26 used in the entire history of the United States, occurring mainly in the 19th century. However, recently the use of this measure has increased, especially following the chaotic selection of the new Speaker of the House.
“I can’t believe I have to say this, but the Palestinian people are not expendable,” Tlaib said during debate on the resolution to censure her. “The screams of Palestinian and Israeli children don’t seem different to me.”
Congressional staffers have been organizing actions in protest against the inaction of their legislative bosses regarding the ongoing Israeli genocide in Gaza. On November 8, more than 100 employees left the Capitol, laying thousands of flowers in honor of the dead.