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Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), pictured during a hearing on February 27, 2019, decided Friday not to accept Israel's restrictive conditions for her visit to family in the occupied West Bank.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress, has been an outspoken critic of Israeli policies and actions in Palestine. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Praised for 'Braving the Smears,' Tlaib Votes Against $1 Billion in Military Aid to Israel

One rights group thanked Tlaib "for speaking truth to power" while being attacked "for simply insisting that Palestinians are human beings who deserve safety, security, and freedom from Israeli apartheid."

Brett Wilkins

As the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to approve $1 billion in funding for Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system, Rep. Rashida Tlaib was lauded by human rights advocates—and lambasted by some of her pro-Israel colleagues—after explaining why she cast one of only nine votes against the measure.

The House voted 420-9 in favor of the stand-alone Iron Dome funding bill (pdf) days after progressive Democrats including Tlaib (D-Mich.) blocked the military aid from a broader spending package. Eight Democrats and one Republican—Rep. Thomas Massie (Ky.)—voted against the measure on Thursday, while Reps. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) voted "present."

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), one of the House's most vocal defenders of Palestinian human rights, voted in favor of the bill.

"I will not support an effort to enable and support war crimes, human rights abuses, and violence," Tlaib said on the House floor while explaining her vote against the Iron Dome funding. "We cannot be talking only about Israelis' need for safety at a time when Palestinians are living under a violent apartheid system, and are dying from what Human Rights Watch said are war crimes."

"We should also be talking about Palestinian need for security from Israeli attacks," added Tlaib, who is the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress. "We must be consistent in our commitment to human life, period. Everyone deserves to be safe there."

Human rights and pro-Palestinian groups applauded Tlaib's stance. The Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU) thanked the congresswoman "for speaking truth to power, and for braving the smears leveled at you for simply insisting that Palestinians are human beings who deserve safety, security, and freedom from Israeli apartheid."

Jewish Voice for Peace Action also thanked Tlaib, adding that "it is outrageous that Democratic leadership is trying to push forward an additional $1 billion to the Israeli military. Every single progressive member of Congress should vote no."

Supporters of Israel, however, condemned Tlaib's vote and remarks.

"The truth has finally come out on the floor of the House of the United States of America," said Rep. Charles Fleischmann (R-Tenn.). "They have a vocal minority in the majority party that is anti-Israel, that is antisemitic, and as Americans we can never stand for that."

"Let's stand with Israel, let's combat antisemitism wherever it is in the world," he added.

Rep. Ted Deutch—a staunchly pro-Israel Florida Democrat and chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee—also condemned Tlaib's remarks, saying he "cannot allow one of my colleagues to stand on the floor of the House of Representatives and label the Jewish democratic state of Israel an apartheid state."

Deutch said that Tlaib "besmirched our ally" and "falsely characterized the state of Israel" like "those who advocate for the dismantling of the one Jewish state in the world."

"When there's no place on the map for one Jewish state, that's antisemitism," Deutch asserted.

Tlaib and other advocates for Palestinian human rights have been repeatedly attacked by Israel supporters, who are often accused of conflating legitimate criticism of Israeli policies and actions with antisemitism. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who along with Tlaib is the first Muslim woman elected to Congress, said in 2019 that such slurs are "designed to end the debate" about Israel's crimes against Palestinians.

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