US Congresswoman Rashifa Tlaib (D-Michigan) has accused the government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of human rights violations.
In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Tlaib said that “We all know under [that] Netanyahu’s regime, human rights violations have gotten worse.”
Rep. Rashida Tlaib tells @jaketapper she believes Israel has a right to exist, “but just like Palestinians have a right to exist. Palestinians also have a right to human rights. We can't say one or other. We have to say it in the same breath.” #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/FIuejFNMaU— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) July 28, 2019
She then went on to defend the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as “a boycott” that “is criticizing the racist policies of Israel.”
When pushed by CNN as to whether BDS could be a “reinvented form of antisemitism,” as US Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York) defined it, Tlaib said that if there were an economic boycott of Saudi Arabia, she would “be the first to sign up" – comparing Israel's policies to those of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan.
“All around college campuses, Jewish, Muslim and Hindus are pushing back against the racist policies in Israel, because they see the human rights violations of children being detained, the fact that my grandmother who lives in the West Bank does not have equality, does not have freedom of travel,” Tlaib continued. “She is someone who is right now under occupation and is feeling less than.”
Tlaib said that growing up in the “blackest, beautiful city” of Detroit, she learned from her African-American teachers “what the pain of oppression looks like.”
She said that, "I truly believe the State of Israel exists… Of course, just like Palestinians have a right to exist.
“We are not going to have peace if we don’t understand that we are dehumanizing Palestinians everyday when we choose Israel over their rights,” she concluded.
Tlaib was among the 17 members of the House of Representatives who last week voted against House Resolution 246 to oppose boycotts of Israel.
In an impassioned speech ahead of the vote, Tlaib evoked the yearning of her Palestinian grandmother “to experience equality, human dignity and freedom,” similar to the way she did in her interview with CNN.
“I stand before you as the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, parents who experienced being stripped of their human rights – the right to freedom of travel, equal treatment,” she told the House. “I cannot stand by and watch this attack on our freedom of speech and the right to boycott the racist policies of the government and the State of Israel.”
The resolution passed with 398 representatives voting in favor.The freshman congresswoman is expected to be in Israel next month. During that trip she will visit her grandmother, who lives in Beit Ur al-Fauqa, 14 km. west of Ramallah. The Tlaib clan is one of three clans in Beit Ur al-Fauqa, home to some 1,000 people.