‘I want us to see that segregation and how that has really harmed us being able to achieve real peace in that region…’
(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) Rep.-elect Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., who campaigned on anti-Israel sentiment, wants to lead a delegation to Israel’s West Bank to boycott Jewish settlements in the region.
Newly-elected members of Congress from both political parties typically visit Israel as guests of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobby group that encourages the U.S.–Israel alliance.
But Tlaib recently announced she wanted Democrats to take a different trip to visit Israel’s Palestinian regions. She said her group will focus on Israel’s alleged mistreatment of the Palestinians, according to The Intercept.
Tlaib is still trying to gain support for the trip, and no other Democrat has agreed to attend. But she said the trip will focus on Palestine, giving members of Congress an alternative to the pro-Israel narrative AIPAC promotes.
“I want us to see that segregation and how that has really harmed us being able to achieve real peace in that region,” Tlaib told The Intercept. “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.”
Tlaib has compared the Israeli occupation of the West Bank to the Jim Crow era in the U.S., claiming Palestinians suffer just as African–Americans did before the Civil Rights movement.
During her interview with the Intercept, she endorsed the radical Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement that advocates for the removal of the Israeli-Jewish government.
“I personally support the BDS movement,” she said, adding that the group’s economic boycotts bring attention to “issues like the racism and the international human rights violations by Israel right now.”
Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) recently came under fire for also coming out in favor of BDS. Omar and Tlaib are the only two members of Congress to vocally support the movement, which regularly promotes anti-Semitic sentiments.
For now, Omar and Tlaib are still in the minority, even within the increasingly radical Democratic caucus.
On Sunday, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who was recently nominated to the House speakership by her party, said she expected a strong year for pro-Israel advocates to promote their causes on Capitol Hill.
“We have people very well placed to share our values in terms of Israel in the heart and in spirit,” Pelosi said at a conference hosted by the Israeli-American Council. “Remove all doubts in your mind. It’s just a question of not paying attention to a few people who may want to go their own way.”
Pelosi said that most Democrats hope for a two-state solution, which would force Israel to cede some of its territory to Palestine. Pro-Israel figures have rejected the two-state solution and jeered at Pelosi for endorsing the idea.
In response, Pelosi attempted to move the goalpost, framing Israel’s yielding of territory—which it has done in the past, only to be met with further demands and terrorist activity—as a sort of middle ground.
“I know there is controversy,” Pelosi admitted. “But understand the extreme Left wants a one-state solution [the eradication of Israel]. Focus on the word ‘solution.’”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has also expressed concern about the rising tide of anti-Semitic sentiment in the U.S.
“We need a campaign aimed particularly at the young, using the media they care about and the language they use,” Schumer said, noting that “Israel’s very existence is still precarious.”