US House censures lone Palestinian-American lawmaker over Israel comments

US House censures lone Palestinian-American lawmaker over Israel comments

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House voted on Tuesday to censure Democratic Representative Rashida Tlaib, Congress’s lone Palestinian-American lawmaker, for comments she made regarding Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza.

Twenty-two Democrats joined with most Republicans in the chamber to censure Tlaib for allegedly “promoting false narratives” on Hamas’ Oct. 7 gun rampage in Israel and “calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.”

The motion was sponsored by Republican Representative Richard McCormick (NYSE:MKC). The final vote tally in the Republican-controlled chamber was 234-188 in favor of censure. Four Republicans voted against the motion, while three Democrats and one Republican abstained.

Tlaib has repeatedly condemned Hamas’s assault, which killed some 1,400 people, while also criticizing U.S. support for Israel as the country’s military retaliates with bombardment that has killed thousands of Palestinians in Gaza.

The measure specifically cited a video Tlaib published on social media containing the phrase “from the river to the sea,” a pro-Palestinian rallying cry that is viewed by many Jews as antisemitic and calling for Israel’s eradication.

She also enraged many fellow Democrats on Friday when she posted a video accusing President Joe Biden of supporting “the genocide of the Palestinian people.” Israel vehemently rejects accusations of genocide.

Tlaib rejected accusations of antisemitism during a speech on the House floor on Tuesday.

“I am the only Palestinian-American in Congress, and my perspective is needed more than ever,” Tlaib said.

“My criticism has always been of the Israeli government and (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu’s actions… The idea that criticizing the government of Israel is antisemitic sets a very dangerous precedent,” Tlaib said.

“Palestinian people are not disposable,” Tlaib added, taking a long pause as she became overcome with emotion. Her grandmother lives in a village in the occupied West Bank, territory Israel captured in a 1967 war.

Representative Pete Aguilar, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, told reporters on Tuesday that while he “strenuously disagreed” with Tlaib’s remarks about Biden, he believed the censure motion was not productive.

The symbolic rebuke has no specific punishment. Although it was previously a rare measure used against members, it has become increasingly common in recent years.

Democrats censured Republican Representative Paul Gosar in 2021 for posting an animated video that depicted his character murdering Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Republicans censured Democrat Adam Schiff for his work investigating former President Donald Trump while he was in power.

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