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Michigan Democratic Representatives at opposite ends of the political spectrum over Israel/Palestine

May 11, 2023

A few days ago, Michigan Representative Rashida Tlaib re-introduced a resolution calling on Congress to recognize “the ongoing Nakba and Palestinian refugees rights.”

The resolution introduced by Tlaib begins by saying:

Whereas May 15, 2023, is the 75th commemoration of the Palestinian Nakba, meaning ‘‘catastrophe’’ in English, a term which refers to Israel’s uprooting, dispossession, and exile of the Palestinian people from their homeland, and Israeli politicians are increasingly threatening Palestinians with a second Nakba today;

Three paragraph’s later the resolution from the Michigan Representative goes in to say: 

Whereas, during the Nakba, Israel forcibly exiled or caused to flee for their lives under duress of military campaigns, which frequently included massacres and other atrocities committed against civilians, at least 750,000 Palestinians (approximately 75 percent of the indigenous population that had lived in areas that became Israel), who became refugees; 

At the other end of the spectrum, newly elected Rep. Hillary Scholten has made no comments about the resolution proposed by Representative Rashida Tlaib, but she did make a Facebook post on April 25th, which read: 

This week marks Israel’s 75th birthday. Happy Yom Ha’atzmaut! #Israel75

Now, for those who are familiar with the founding of the State of Israel, you cannot separate their founding with the massacres and the displacement of thousands of Palestinians, which is exactly what the Nakba commemorates. The fact that Rep. Scholten said nothing about this in her April 25th Facebook post nor the resolution proposal by Rep. Tlaib is instructive.

Now some may argue that there is no point in pursuing a resolution calling on Congress to recognize “the ongoing Nakba and Palestinian refugees rights,” as Rep. Tlaib has done, especially since the Israel Lobby is so powerful in the US. (See, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt) However, the idea of not pursuing something because there is significant opposition is cowardly. Rep. Tlaib faced down a Pro-Israel PAC in the 2022 Election, but was still able to win because she is committed to challenging not only the Israel Lobby, but the longstanding commitment of the US government to fund billions of dollars of military aid to Israel on an annual basis since the mid-1970s.

Michigan has one of the largest Arab American populations in the country, so it is not only out of a sense of justice that Rep. Tlaib speaks about against US support of Israel and in solidarity with Palestinians, but also because her district has a sizable Palestinian diaspora that she represents.

The Israel/Palestine issue has long plagued the Democratic Party. The Democrats Party needs to get behind the international movement to support Palestinian rights, and supporting Rep. Tlaib’s resolution is a good first step for Rep. Scholten to take, along with her Michigan colleagues. Taking this kind of a stand would make a strong statement to the Democratic National Committee, who for too long has been complicit in Israel’s violation of International Law. 

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