This story originally appeared in Common Dreams on Nov. 8, 2023. It is shared here with permission under a Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) license.
Twenty-two Democrats in the U.S. House voted with Republicans on Tuesday to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib—the only Palestinian-American member of Congress—over her response to the deadly Hamas-led attacks on Israel and the Israeli military’s response, which has killed more than 10,000 people in just a month.
The censure resolution, led by Rep. Rich McCormick (R-Ga.), falsely accuses Tlaib (D-Mich.) of defending the Hamas attack as “justified” resistance and calling for the “destruction of the state of Israel.”
The final vote on the measure was 234-188, with four Republicans and 184 Democrats voting no. The 22 Democratic yes votes included Reps. Josh Gottheimer (N.J.), Jared Golden (Maine), Susie Lee (Nev.), Brad Schneider (Ill.) and Ritchie Torres (N.Y.).
In a floor speech ahead of Tuesday’s vote, Tlaib said that “trying to bully or censure me won’t work because this movement for a cease-fire is much bigger than one person.”
“There are millions of people across our country who oppose [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s extremism and are done watching our government support collective punishment and the use of white phosphorous bombs that melt flesh to the bone,” she continued. “But let me be clear: My criticism has always been of the Israeli government and Netanyahu’s actions. It is important to separate people and governments.”
“No government is beyond criticism,” Tlaib added. “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.”
In a statement responding to the censure vote, the progressive group Justice Democrats accused the House of taking out “its anti-Palestinian bigotry out on the only Palestinian American in Congress” and called out by name each of the Democratic members who voted yes.
“We ask Representatives Steve Cohen, Jim Costa, Angie Craig, Don Davis, Lois Frankel, Jared Golden, Dan Goldman, Josh Gottheimer, Greg Landsman, Susie Lee, Kathy Manning, Jared Moskowitz, Wiley Nickel, Chris Pappas, Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, Pat Ryan, Brad Schneider, Kim Schrier, Darren Soto, Ritchie Torres, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Frederica Wilson why the cries of Palestinian babies sound different to them,” said Alexandra Rojas, the group’s executive director.
“Congresswoman Tlaib’s moral courage will never be extinguishable, but these 22 Democrats’ cowardice, bigotry, and fanaticism will be the only thing the American people ever remember of them,” Rojas added.
Tlaib is one of more than 20 members of Congress who have called for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, which is facing an appalling humanitarian crisis as Israel continues bombing the besieged territory and ramping up its ground attack. Major human rights groups and the head of the United Nations have also called for a cease-fire, which is overwhelmingly popular with the U.S. public.
But Tlaib and other progressive U.S. lawmakers who have called for a cease-fire have been met with open criticism from members of their own party and the Biden White House.
Tlaib has accused President Joe Biden of supporting genocide in Gaza, echoing the assessments of legal experts who say the administration’s unconditional arming of Israel and unwavering political support rise to the level of complicity in Israeli war crimes.
A group of United Nations experts warned last week that “the Palestinian people are at grave risk of genocide.”
“The time for action is now,” they added. “Israel’s allies also bear responsibility and must act now to prevent its disastrous course of action.”
Democratic strategist Waleed Shahid noted in a statement Wednesday that “the House did not censure Rep. Brian Mast for stating there is no such thing as an innocent Palestinian civilian and comparing all Palestinians to Nazis, nor Rep. Max Miller for saying Gaza should be turned into a ‘parking lot,’ nor Rep. Josh Gottheimer who was reported in two outlets to have blamed all Muslims for the attacks of October 7.”
“Representative Tlaib has repeatedly called for the recognition of the shared humanity of all Israelis and Palestinians,” Shahid added. “It is clear that while Israelis and Palestinians may be equal in the eyes of God, they are not in the eyes of the United States government. It’s now up to Democrats of conscience to dismantle the horrific hierarchy of human value that has taken hold at the highest places in our party and government.”