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Tlaib, newly-elected congresswoman, will lead delegation to Palestine

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rashida tlaib michigan capitol
Rashida
Tlaib in front of the Michigan Capitol in Lansing in November
2008.

Al
Goldis/AP


Rashida Tlaib, a Democratic representative-elect from Michigan
and one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, will lead
a delegation to Palestine in 2019 instead of participating in a
sponsored trip to Israel that is traditionally offered to
newly-elected members of Congress, The Intercept reported. 

The week-long Israel trip, sponsored by the American Israel
Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-Israel lobby group, and
organized by the American Israel Education Foundation, features a
tour of Israel and meetings with Israeli government leaders. The
little-known tradition is offered to both Republican and
Democratic members of Congress during their freshman year and has
attracted criticism for its pro-Israel influence on House
members. 

Tlaib, the Detroit-born daughter of Palestinian immigrants,
told The Intercept that she wants to offer her colleagues an
alternate perspective on the Israeli-Palestine
conflict. 

“I want us to see that segregation and how that has really
harmed us being able to achieve real peace in that region,” Tlaib
told The Intercept. “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.” 

Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman elected to
Congress, also said she supports the Boycott, Divestment and
Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to isolate Israel
economically and politically over its treatment of
Palestinians. 


Read more:

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she was once booted for heckling Trump

According to The Intercept, previous AIPAC-sponsored trips
to Israel by Democratic members have only included a 75-minute
meeting with a Palestinian official. Though Tlaib said she is
still working out her visit’s details, she said she doesn’t plan
to meet with members of the Palestinian Authority or Israeli
government. Instead, she hopes to meet with advocacy
organizations and might even take the delegation to Beit Ur
al-Foqa, the northern West Bank village where her grandmother
lives. 

Annaliese Davis, spokesperson for Democratic Maryland
Congressman Steny Hoyer, who has participated in the AIPAC trip
in the past as a senior member of Congress, said the visit is “an
opportunity for freshmen Members of Congress to learn more about
regional threats and dynamics in the Middle East and the
complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

“The organizers work hard to show both sides of that
conflict,” Davis told INSIDER. “The delegation typically travels
to Ramallah and meets with Palestinian leadership, including
Mahmoud Abbas and former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad when
possible; they meet with representatives from NGOs focused on
promoting peace efforts, such as Peace Now; and they meet with
Israeli leaders from across the ideological
spectrum.” 

Davis added that Hoyer “intends to once again serve as the
senior member on a delegation of Members of Congress to Israel
next year,” though the trip hasn’t yet been planned.

Pro-Palestine groups in the U.S. hope that Tlaib’s trip will give
Congress members a “refreshening perspective” of the situation in
the West Bank. Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the U.S.
Campaign for Palestinian Rights, told INSIDER that past
Congressional trips to Israel have provided “skewed” perspectives
of the conflict that benefit only one side of the issue.

“Going over there and seeing for yourself what’s taking place is
one of the most important things that anybody could do and, for
members of Congress in particular, to be able to look at the
situation on the ground first-hand and to have to think about the
role the U.S. government plays in creating that situation on the
ground, that situation of injustice, is, I think, very
important,” Munayyer added.

Tlaib, who called Trump Administration’s Muslim ban “textbook
bigotry” and, with Ilhan Omar, will become one of the first
Muslim Congresswomen in American history, has vowed to propose
legislation that will “drastically expand U.S. civil rights
protections to cover discriminatory impacts.” Though it is still
unknown which members of Congress will join Tlaib for the West
Bank visit, the Congresswoman-elect said her end goal is to
humanize Palestinians. 

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