The House voted Tuesday night to censure the only Palestinian American in Congress, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., over her remarks on the Israel-Hamas war.
The move to censure Tlaib in a resolution introduced by Rep. Rich McCormick, R-Ga., was approved in the House by a vote of 234–188. Most House Republicans voted in favour of the measure, along with a handful of House Democrats.
Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., who is Jewish and one of the Democrats who voted to censure Tlaib, said the resolution was not perfect “in its language or form” in a statement but said he thought there was “no other recourse but to vote to censure her.”
“It is the only vehicle available to formally rebuke the dangerous disinformation and aspersions that Rep. Tlaib continues to use and defend,” he said.
Earlier on Tuesday afternoon, House Republicans rebuffed a Democratic attempt to use a procedural move called a motion to table to set aside the resolution. Surrounded by her fellow progressive colleagues, Tlaib gave a tearful but passionate speech on the House floor after the move to table.
“I can’t believe I have to say this but Palestinian people are not disposable. We are human beings,” Tlaib said Tuesday afternoon, holding up a framed picture of her grandmother. “Just like my grandmother, like all Palestinians, who just wants to live her life with the freedom and human dignity we all deserve.”
The resolution targeted Tlaib’s public statements about the Israel-Hamas war and accused her of “promoting false narratives regarding the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel and for calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.”
The statement “from the river to the sea,” a pro-Palestinian catchphrase that Israel’s defenders claim is antisemitic and calls for the destruction of the state of Israel, is one of Tlaib’s remarks that has generated the most controversy in Congress.
Tlaib got more pushback from her colleagues after saying in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that the phrase is “an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate.”
From the river to the sea is an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate. My work and advocacy is always centered in justice and dignity for all people no matter faith or ethnicity.
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) November 3, 2023
On the House floor, Tlaib emphasized her comments on the war are aimed exclusively at the Israeli government and not Jewish people. She has called for a ceasefire in the conflict as Israel continues its bombing of Gaza which threatens Palestinian civilians.
“My criticism has always been of the Israeli government and (President Benjamin) Netanyahu’s actions,” Tlaib said.
“Speaking up to save lives, Mr. Chair, no matter faith, no matter ethnicity should not be controversial in this chamber. The cries of Palestinian and Israeli children sound no different to me,” she added. “What I don’t understand is why the cries of Palestinians sounds different to you all.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a fiery conservative from Georgia, attempted to condemn Tlaib last week over her remarks regarding the war, but she was successful. Greene’s phrasing in her resolution, which referred to a pro-Palestinian demonstration that took over a House office building as a “illegal insurrection,” was the primary reason that their efforts were crushed in a motion to table.
Greene also proposed a second attempt to reprimand Tlaib after McCormick introduced his motion on Monday, but this time he changed the wording to refer to the demonstration as a “illegal occupation.”