U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) greets CodePink demonstrators outside her office on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on February 15, 2024.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Tlaib Urges Michigan to Send Biden a Message on Gaza by Voting Uncommitted

A critic of U.S. support for Israel's war on the besieged enclave, the only Palestinian American in Congress stressed the importance of creating "a voting bloc, something that is a bullhorn to say enough is enough."

Speaking outside an early voting site on Saturday, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib urged fellow Michigan Democrats to vote uncommitted in the February 27 primary to send President Joe Biden a message about U.S. support for Israel as it wages a genocidal war on the Gaza Strip.

According toThe Detroit News, Tlaib "is the first member of Congress in Michigan and the highest-profile official to date to get behind the Listen to Michigan campaign," which launched earlier this month and is led by her sister, Dearborn community organizer Layla Elabed.

The only Palestinian American in Congress, Tlaib recorded a 70-second video—shared on social media by the campaign—outside the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center in Dearborn, which is open for early voting February 17-25 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

"It is important, as you all know, to not only march against the genocide, not only make sure that we're calling our members of Congress and local electeds and passing city resolutions all throughout our country," Tlaib said. "It is also important to create a voting bloc, something that is a bullhorn to say enough is enough. We don't want a country that supports wars and bombs and destruction. We want to support life. We want to stand up for every single life killed in Gaza."

Since declaring war in retaliation for a Hamas-led attack on October 7, Israel has been widely accused of genocide, including in a South Africa-led case before the International Court of Justice. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have killed nearly 29,000 Palestinians in Gaza and destroyed homes, hospitals, schools, mosques, and other civilian infrastructure.

Though Biden said Friday that he has told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that "I feel very strongly... there has to be a temporary cease-fire... to get the hostages out," the president has also rejected growing global demands for a permanent cease-fire, publicly cast doubt on the death toll from officials in Hamas-governed Gaza, bypassed Congress to arm the IDF, and sought a $14 billion package on top of the almost $4 billion in annual U.S. military aid to Israel.

"I want you to think of all of the amazing young children and the people—again, lives were lost in Gaza," Tlaib said in the video for Listen to Michigan. "This is the way you can raise our voices. Don't make us even more invisible. Right now, we feel completely neglected and just unseen by our government. If you want us to be louder, then come here and vote uncommitted."

As NBC Newsreported Saturday:

Asked about Tlaib's message urging voters to vote uncommitted in the Democratic primary, Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes reiterated support for Biden.

"President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were elected because they promised to deliver for Michigan's families, workers, and communities—and they kept their promises," he told NBC News.

However, there has been mounting frustration with the president in Michigan, a swing state that Biden narrowly won in 2020 and which is home to significant numbers of Arab and Muslim Americans, including many with relatives impacted by the war.

Dozens of city council members, mayors, state representatives, and other current and former elected officials have endorsed the campaign urging Michiganders to vote uncommitted in the Democratic primary, as has Our Revolution, which has plans for phone and text banking as well as events on college campuses.

Biden "has lost the people," Abbas Alawieh, a Dearborn activist involved in Listen to Michigan, toldUSA Today. "People feel not a vague sense of betrayal. People feel a deep sense of betrayal, a bone-deep sense of betrayal."

"It's time for him to take action, and he's failing to do so," Alawieh said of Biden. "And that's going to have political consequences."

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