Tlaib Says She Will Not Be Silenced

( – The only Palestinian-American member of Congress, Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, responded to her colleague’s censure motion last week by proclaiming she “will not be silenced.”

Amid the Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip after Hamas’ attack on the Jewish state last month, Tlaib addressed her colleagues in Congress and stated as her voice shook that she “can’t believe” she has to say that “Palestinian people are not disposable.”

As she spoke, Tlaib held a photograph of her grandmother in the West Bank Palestinian territory and was accompanied by Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, the only other Muslim woman in the House chamber, who comforted Tlaib.

Tlaib appealed to her colleagues, telling them that she “will not be silenced” or let Congress “distort” her words. She maintained that the cries of children in Palestine and Israel “sound no different to me.”

Tlaib was censured last week by a vote that included 22 of her fellow Democratic Party members. The motion came in response to remarks made by Tlaib that her colleagues considered “antisemitic,” specifically her defense of the pro-Palestinian phrase, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Critics of the phrase consider it a call to genocide, arguing that it represents the elimination of the state of Israel entirely.

The 47-year-old Michigan representative has become a polarizing figure in Washington, D.C. during the Israel-Hamas war. Even many fellow Democrats and progressives are distancing themselves from her, such as former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders who considers Tlaib a “friend.” The Vermont senator, who’s also criticized Israel’s military campaign, criticized the use of the phrase by Tlaib as unhelpful.

Tlaib claims the slogan “is an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence” rather than “death, destruction, or hate.” Most of her colleagues disagreed and proceeded with the censure, a move just below expulsion.

The Middle Eastern conflict is dividing members of both parties and has become one of the main topics of discussion as the 2024 presidential election approaches just around the corner.

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