Twenty-two Democrats, Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey among them, voted to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian American in Congress, for her criticism of Israel’s indiscriminate and brutal retaliation for Hamas’ deadly attack last month.
Tlaib has repeatedly condemned Hamas’s assault, which killed some 1,400 people, while also criticizing US support for Israel as the country’s military retaliates with bombardment that has killed over 10,000 people, including children, in Gaza.
The resolution, sponsored by Georgia’s right-wing Republican Congressman Rich McCormick, who claims that “Joe Biden has unleashed an unrelenting assault on our core values,” accused Tlaib of “promoting false narratives regarding the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel and for calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.”
It also references her use over the weekend of the controversial phrase “from the river to the sea,” which is considered by many to be antisemitic.
“I think there has to be consequence for saying things that will lead to destruction, anti-Semitism, and terror,” said Gottheimer, explaining to CNN ‘Inside Politics’ host Dana Bash why he supports the censure of Tlaib.
Democratic leadership earlier in the day urged members to vote for a motion to kill the censure resolution and the party largely stuck together, with only one Democrat voting to advance it.
In addition to the Democrats who bucked their party, four Republicans voted against the censure: Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), John Duarte (R-Calif.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Tom McClintock (R-Calif.).
Many Democrats defended Tlaib’s right to make the controversial comments, citing the First Amendment, including some who said they disagreed with her words.
In the scheme of things, even Tlaib’s most startling comments are subject to interpretation at a time when some critics have labeled any objection to the slaughter in Gaza as antisemitic rhetoric.
In one social media post, the Muslim Congresswoman said, “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.”
Critics argue that the term “From the river to the sea” is an antisemitic phrase interpreted and criticized by some Jewish groups as a call for the destruction of Israel.
Tlaib has said that she does not support the destruction of Israel, but the phrase has been used by both Palestinians and Israelis, including Netanyahu.
“Israel has killed over 10,000 Palestinians in Gaza,” said one Netanyahu critic. “Babies who never celebrated a birthday. Child cancer survivors. Children who loved football and surfing. Entire families.”
“Israel’s response to Hamas must differentiate between Hamas and the civilian population of Gaza,” said J Street, a progressive Jewish organization that unequivocally condemned Hamas as “a despicable, inhumane terrorist organization.”
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has returned to his evil ways, inciting and sowing destruction. If in normal times this behavior poisons society and the systems of the state, in wartime it places Israel in existential danger, said an editorial published by Haaretz, the longest-running newspaper in Israel.
It came after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tried to censure her last week — and failed.
22 Democrats voted for a more narrow resolution proposed by a different House Republican.
Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan was censured by the House of Representatives on Tuesday evening for comments she’s made about Israel in the month since the October 7 Hamas attack.
The Michigan Democrat did not take the slight laying down.
Tlaib argued in a floor speech earlier on Tuesday that Republicans were attempting to silence her and dehumanize Palestinians, and fellow Democrats also argued that the congresswoman had a right to free speech.
“It’s a shame my colleagues are more focused on silencing me than they are on saving lives, as the death toll in Gaza surpasses 10,000,” wrote Tlaib in a statement on the censure effort. “Many of them have shown me that Palestinian lives simply do not matter to them, but I still do not police their rhetoric or actions.”
Her campaign organization followed up with an appeal for funds after the vote.
“The House just voted to censure Rashida for calling the Israeli military’s attacks on Palestinian civilians what it is: Genocide,” said the email from Rashida Tlaib’s campaign. “Rather than working to save lives and condemning the Israeli military’s war crimes, the American media and Congress members have been more focused on silencing Rashida.”
“A majority of Representatives voted last week to send billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to the Israeli military to pay for more bombs that are killing thousands of children,” said the email. “And 10 House Republicans co-sponsored a horrific bill seeking to ban Palestinians from the United States and expel Palestinians who are not permanent U.S. residents.”
“Rashida believes in the humanity of all people, speaking up to save lives no matter one’s faith or ethnicity,” said the email. “Her calls for a ceasefire are in line with the vast majority of Americans across the political spectrum.”
“We will not allow racist, Islamophobic, and anti-Palestinian attacks to silence her,” said the email.
In the past, Gottheimer criticized Rutgers University for hosting the organization founded by Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post journalist butchered by Saudi government officials on orders from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, falsely stating that the group was linked to Al Qaeda.
“At another event, the same group hosted Democracy for the Arab World Now, DAWN, whose officials have connections to Al Qaeda and Hamas networks,” Gottheimer said. “Hamas sympathizers, or others with ties to other terrorist organizations involved in 9/11, have no place on college campuses. Associates of Palestinian Islamic jihad have no place on this college campus. I know we all believe that hate has no home here. It’s time we all practice what we preach.”
As ‘indiscriminate and disproportionate’ bombardments struck Gaza, the Palestinian enclave of 2.3 million people, dozens of the United Nations’ rights experts said Israel’s bombardment of the territory “amounts to collective punishment” which is a war crime.
In response to a surprise Hamas offensive on Saturday that left 1,300 Israelis dead, Israel also imposed a “total siege” that stopped electricity, food, water, and fuel from reaching the poor and aid-dependent civilians.