(photo credit: REUTERS/REBECCA COOK)
WASHINGTON – One day after Nancy Pelosi, likely the next speaker of the House of Representatives, told Israel advocates to rest easy with Democrats in control of the lower chamber, one of her newly elected party members announced support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement– and suggested a planned delegation trip to the West Bank.
Rashida Tlaib is the first Palestinian-American women ever elected to Congress. The Michigan lawmaker campaigned in favor of a two-state solution until just weeks before the midterm elections last month, when she backtracked from her support, and suggested to instead favor a one-state solution, with the Arab majority in control.
Now, in an interview with The Intercept, Tlaib publicly endorsed the BDS movement and announced she would refuse an annual trip to Israel hosted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for freshman congressmen, and instead will organize a competing delegation to “occupied Palestine.”
“I want us to see that segregation has really harmed us, [especially in] being able to achieve real peace in the region,” Tlaib said in the interview. “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 also cleared up any doubts over her position on the BDS movement, which is currently the target of several bills making their way through Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support
. “I personally support the BDS movement,” Tlaib stated.
Tlaib is joined by at least two other freshmen congressmen who, throughout their campaigns, expressed deep animosity toward the Jewish State: Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. Omar’s staff has said she supports the BDS movement, while Ocasio-Cortez has said she plans on highlighting Palestinian rights during her time in office.
But Democratic sources say the party leadership considers the focus on this handful of vocal freshmen as out of proportion to their influence, and does not adequately illustrate their representation in the caucus.
At the Israeli-American Council conference on Sunday, Pelosi said that she expected a strong year for pro-Israel advocates in Washington.
“We have people very well placed to share our values in terms of Israel in the heart and in spirit,” she said, listing several future committee chairs with staunch records, who are friendly to Israel. “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 was asked what she expects from a White House peace effort between the Israelis and the Palestinians, which may likely rile debate on Capitol Hill over the best path forward in the conflict. She said that she hoped for an endorsement of a two-state solution, and received boos from the crowd.
“I know there is controversy,” she replied, “but understand the extreme Left wants a one-state solution.”
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