Rashida Tlaib compares 'racist' Israel to 19th-century US segregation

Rashida Tlaib also said of US President Donald Trump: “We are allowing a crooked CEO to run this country."

July 14, 2019 10:20
3 minute read.
Democratic U.S. congressional candidate Rashida Tlaib reacts after appearing after midterm elections

Democratic U.S. congressional candidate Rashida Tlaib reacts after appearing at her midterm election night . (photo credit: REUTERS/REBECCA COOK)


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Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib claims that “there is continued dehumanization and racist policies by the State of Israel that violate international human rights, but also violate my core values of who I am as an American.”

In an interview published Saturday by Jacobin, a democratic socialist quarterly magazine based in New York that offers American leftist perspectives on politics, Tlaib - America’s first Palestinian-American in Congress - compared the happenings in Israel with racial segregation in the United States.
“‘Separate but equal’” doesn’t work, Tlaib said. “I know that my ancestors were killed, died, uprooted from their land.... I can tell you when I was in Palestine with my mother and she had to get in a separate line. There are different colored license plates if you are Palestinian or Israeli."

Tlaib’s parents were both born in the West Bank. Her mother grew up there and her father moved at nine years old to Nicaragua. As young adults, they moved to the States. 

“When he came to the United States at the age of 19, he really didn’t feel economic stability until he finally got a job at Ford Motor Company, and got health insurance for the first time and involved in the United Auto Workers,” she described.

Playing the intersectionality card - the idea that different forms of oppression and discrimination and its effects overlap - Tlaib said that, “Just like we looked at the struggle for black Americans for true equality and access to opportunity to thrive. The same thing that has happened to the LGBTQ community. All of that is why I say free Palestine, that Palestinians deserve human rights. I see young people understanding that. When I see young Black Lives Matter activists with t-shirts that say ‘Free Palestine,’ and I’m wearing the Black Lives Matter t-shirt, I know it’s working.”

According to The Dig’s Daniel Denvir, who conducted the interview, Tlaib and fellow congresswoman Ilhan Omar, have been the target of vicious attacks for her solidarity with the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) and criticism of the state of Israel.

“You and Representative Omar have been the subject of a horrific torrent of abuse because you both support Palestinian liberation and because you are both Muslim women,” Denvir said before asking a question on the issue: “Would you agree that defenders of the status quo are rightfully worried that the American people, particularly young people, are moving toward supporting justice and freedom in Israel and Palestine?”

Tlaib said that what is looking for is recognition of what happened to the Palestinian people in 1948 at the time of the founding of the State of Israel, which might allow for “healing” and “equality and freedom for my grandmother,” who still lives in the West Bank.  

“Over 70 years of struggle, and it’s because we’re not looking at it the way we should be,” the freshman congresswoman said. “I see more Americans understanding the plight of Palestinians, in a way that doesn’t dehumanize or degrade Israelis either, but does hold the leadership of the Israeli government accountable. They see Israel is proceeding in a way that is a direct violation of Palestinians’ core right to human dignity. The defenders of the status quo are right to be worried.”

Tlaib also used the platform to talk about why she continues to call for US President Donald Trump’s impeachment despite the pushback she has received, even from within her own party.

“We’re the largest [Democratic] incoming congressional [House] class since the Watergate class in 1974,” Tlaib responded. “They didn’t set a standard of ‘Oh, well we need 67 votes [in the Senate] before we proceed.’ They chose their responsibility to uphold the US Constitution, and that meant stopping obstruction of justice and Nixon’s refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas. I’m glad they didn’t choose that standard to hold the president accountable because Nixon would’ve been able to get away with it.”

She said that Trump is setting the precedent that it is OK to attack US democracy.

“We are allowing a crooked CEO to run this country,” she said. “He’s running his businesses out of the Oval Office…. When are we going to say it’s our responsibility and our duty to do right by the American people and push back on him violating our Constitution? Because if we don’t, it will set a precedent, and this will not be the last crooked CEO that wants to run for president.”

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