Democratic Rep.-elect Rashida Tlaib from Michigan is the first Palestinian-American woman to be elected to Congress, and she’s already shaking things ups. When she was elected she “vowed to upend the status quo — even on third-rail issues in Washington like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the Intercept reported. And she as started on her journey to fulfill this pledge.
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Tlaib said in an Instagram post that she will wear a traditional Palestinian robe for her swearing-in ceremony — a black, hand-embroidered robe with pink thread and other accent colors.
She has organized a congressional delegation to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, going against tradition for newly elected members of Congress who usually take a junket to Israel sponsored by the education arm of the powerful pro-Israel lobby group American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC. Such trips are typically scheduled during the first August recess in every legislative session. The trips include a weeklong tour of Israel as well as networking meetings with Israeli business, government, and military notables.
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Tlaib instead wants to show her fellow incoming representatives an alternative introduction to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “She said her group will focus on issues like Israel’s detention of Palestinian children, education, access to clean water, and poverty. She may even take them to Beit Ur al-Foqa, the village where Tlaib’s grandmother lives, in the northern West Bank,” the Intercept reported.
While the attendees for the trip has yet to be revealed, Tlaib is looking for advocacy organizations to partner with to fund the delegation.
“But Tlaib is clear about one thing: She wants her delegation to humanize Palestinians, provide an alternative perspective to the one AIPAC pushes, and highlight the inherent inequality of Israel’s system of military occupation in Palestinian territories, which Tlaib likens to what African-Americans in the United States endured in the Jim Crow era,” the Intercept reported.
Tlaib has confirmed that the trip will not include any meetings with the Palestinian Authority or with Israeli government officials.
“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.” “I want us to see that segregation and how that has really harmed us being able to achieve real peace in that region,” Tlaib said in an 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.”
A close friend in response to the alternative trip to @AIPAC's: "Be careful, you don't want to become a target for them."
Me: "My mere existence made me a target as soon as I won."
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) December 8, 2018