Rep. Rashida Tlaib censured by House over Israel-Hamas comments

House of Representatives TV

(WASHINGTON) — The House of Representatives voted to censure Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib on Tuesday night, despite her emotionally defending herself, as Republicans and some members of her own party voted for a resolution that claimed she had been “promoting false narratives regarding the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel and for calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.” The tally was 234 yes votes to 188 no votes.

This was the second time Tlaib faced a censure resolution over her criticism of Israel.

Tlaib became emotional on the House floor earlier Tuesday as she defended her views on the deadly conflict.

Tlaib rose to speak during debate on the resolution, which had been introduced by Rep. Rich McCormick, R-Ga.

Tlaib’s critics have pointed to her use of the phrase “from the river to the sea,” which is considered by some as a call for ending Israel’s existence. Tlaib, however, has said it’s “an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate.”

Surrounded by some of her progressive Democratic colleagues, Tlaib said earlier Tuesday she would not be “silenced” and accused members of distorting her words.

“I can’t believe we have to say this, but Palestinian people are not disposable,” she said before she broke down in tears for several seconds earlier on Tuesday.

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., stood to comfort Tlaib before she continued.

“We are human beings just like anyone else. My sity, my grandmother — like all Palestinians — just wants to live her life with freedom and human dignity we all deserve,” she said. “Speaking up to save lives no matter faith, no matter ethnicity should not be controversial in this chamber. The cries of the Palestinian and Israeli children sound no different to me. What I don’t understand is why the cries of Palestinian children sound different to you all. We cannot lose our shared humanity.”

An attempt by House Democrats to table, or effectively kill, the McCormick resolution failed on Tuesday afternoon. The House debated the censure resolution Tuesday and voted on Tuesday night.

A vote to censure a member of Congress does not hold power beyond a public condemnation of the member’s behavior. It does not deny privileges in Congress or expel the member. A simple majority is all that is needed for a censure resolution to pass.

Censures are relatively rare — only 25 House lawmakers had been censured in history. Tlaib becomes the 26th.

Tuesday’s vote was the second attempt in as many weeks looking to condemn Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American member of Congress, for her controversial comments about Israel amid its response to the deadly Hamas terror attack. The U.S. has designated Hamas a terrorist organization.

In Israel, at least 1,400 people have been killed and 6,900 others have been injured since the surprise attack on Oct. 7, according to Israeli officials. In the neighboring Gaza Strip, where Israel Defense Forces are deepening its operational activities, more than 10,000 people have been killed and nearly 26,000 have been injured, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

The first resolution, brought by Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene last week, was killed by House Democrats with the help of some Republicans. The House rejected the Georgia congresswoman’s effort by a vote of 222-186.

Tlaib first drew ire of some colleagues for refusing to apologize for blaming Israel for a deadly hospital blast in Gaza that U.S. officials believed to have been caused by a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket.

More recently, she’s faced pushback for calling for a cease-fire as the Israel-Gaza war rages on. She’s gone as far as to accuse President Joe Biden of supporting a Palestinian “genocide” over his administration’s resistance to a general cease-fire, though Biden has called for temporary pauses in the fighting to allow humanitarian aid to enter and for civilians to leave.

Tlaib defended her views during her five-minute speech on the House floor.

“Let me be clear: my criticism has always been of the Israeli government and Netanyahu’s actions. It’s important to separate people and governments, Mr. Chair, no government is beyond criticism,” Tlaib said. “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.”

She also again took aim at President Biden, specifically over his past comment questioning the death toll statistics provided by the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry as well as his resistance to an overall cease-fire.

“Seventy-one percent of Michigan Democrats support a ceasefire. So, you can try to censure me, but you can’t silence their voices … President Biden must listen to and represent all of us, not just some of us,” she said.

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