New Muslim congresswoman Rashida Tlaib will lead a first congressional delegation to Israeli-occupied West Bank
Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian elected to Congress, is planning to bring and lead a congressional delegation to the West Bank. The House member will not meet with any Israeli or Palestinian government officials.Traditionally, newly elected congress members are scheduled to take a tour in Israel and meet with signature Israeli leaders in military and government. These trips are planned and led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), one of the most influential pro-Israel American lobbying groups. The trip has served to shape the pro-Israel stances of House members.
Many critics of AIPAC accuse the lobby group of pink-washing Israel’s Zionist apartheid and occupation of Palestinians. Political analysts compare Israeli apartheid to the United States during the Jim Crow era. American activists have demonstrated their international solidarity with Palestinians via the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to end international support for Israel’s colonization of Palestine.
In an interview with the Intercept, Rashida Tlaib states, “I want us to see that segregation and how that has really harmed us being able to achieve real peace in that region. I don’t think AIPAC provides a real, fair lens into this issue. It’s one-sided… [They] have these lavish trips to Israel, but they don’t show the side that I know is real, which is what’s happening to my grandmother and what’s happening to my family there.”
She adds, “I personally support the BDS movement.”
Tlaib’s announcement comes on the heel of fellow congress member Ilhan Omar’s own public support of the BDS movement. Both women are also the first Muslim women to be elected into Congress. Their public support of BDS signals a new political shift among other fellow progressive newcomers.