Rep. Rashida Tlaib Speaks Out

Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) sets the record straight, quoting racist Israeli leaders and asking Congress to stop funding apartheid. (PHOTO COURTESY C-SPAN).

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, October 2023, p. 30

Special Report
By Rashida Tlaib

The House passed H.Con.Res. 57 on July 18, which asserts that Israel “is not a racist or apartheid state,” days after Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) criticized Israel as a racist state and ahead of Israeli president Isaac Herzog’s July 19 speech to a joint meeting of Congress. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) denounced the resolution and the policing of speech by women of color in Congress in an impassioned floor speech, reprinted below.

RASHIDA TLAIB: Mr. Speaker, I am the only Palestinian American serving in Congress, and I have family members all throughout the West Bank and what many people call the illegally occupied territories.

We are here again reaffirming Congress’s support for apartheid. 

Policing the words of women of color who dare to speak up about truth and about oppression is just not what we should be doing here in Congress.

Let’s just get the record straight here. This is not something that is made up. The United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Israel’s own largest human rights organization, B’Tselem, all agree that Israel is an apartheid state.

To assert otherwise, Mr. Speaker, in the face of this body of evidence is an attempt to deny the reality and to normalize violence of apartheid.

This week we are going to hear consistently people touting about, oh, this is bipartisan support here.

Don’t forget, this body, this Congress, supported a South African apartheid regime, and it was bipartisan as well.

You don’t have to take it from me to understand the racism of an apartheid government. Let’s take a moment just to hear Israeli government’s own politicians in their own words. Direct quotes, not mine. Current Prime Minister Netanyahu on his policies toward Palestinians said: “Beat them up, not once but repeatedly, beat them up until it is unbearable.’’ He said that Israel must “crush Palestinian hopes for a fully sovereign state.’’

One of the former defense ministers said that Palestinians are “beasts. They are not human.’’ He is talking about people like my grandmother, Mr. Speaker.

How about a former justice minister who said: “They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.’’

How about another former defense minister who said: “Those who are against us, there is nothing to be done. We need to pick up an ax and cut off his head.’’ Another quote: “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people.’’

How is that not racism at its core?

Israel’s own President Herzog is going to come before Congress tomorrow. He has long advocated against interracial marriages. Did you all know that? Do you care? He said it on a news segment. Look it up.

When he came to America, he said: “I encountered something that I called an actual plague. I saw my friends’ children married or coupled with non-Jewish partners.’’

Israel is an apartheid state. The Israeli government is deeply problematic in the way that they are proceeding in the structure of oppression.

Mr. Speaker, just like I speak up against injustices here in America, this is about speaking up against violence. Congress must stop funding apartheid.

Rashida Tlaib, a Detroit native of Palestinian heritage, represents Michigan’s 12th Congressional District. In 2019 she became one of the two first Muslim women in Congress. She fights for vulnerable communities around the country, advocating for clean air and water, social justice, ending poverty and strengthening public education.

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