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US lawmakers express frustration in having to vote for yet another pro-Israel resolution

November 30, 2023 at 1:34 pm

United States Representative Rashida Tlaib, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (seen), United States Representative Ilhan Omar, Representative Cori Bush, Representative Jonathan Jackson, Representative Nydia M. Velazquez, United States Representative Jamaal Bowman, and Representative Summer Lee hold a press conference with Rabbis in front of the US Capitol to call for a ceasefire and end to the Israeli attacks on Gaza in Washington DC, United States on November 13, 2023 [Celal Güneş – Anadolu Agency]

In a significant move that further curtails free speech, the US House of Representatives, on Tuesday, overwhelmingly approved a resolution which conflates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Entitled “reaffirming the state of Israel’s right to exist” the resolution includes highly controversial claims that are being used to crack down on criticism of Israel, including its practice of apartheid.

The resolution, introduced by Republican Rep, Mike Lawler, of New York, garnered bipartisan support, with only two members dissenting. “I agree with the title ‘Reaffirming the State of Israel’s Right to Exist’ and much of the language, but I’m voting No on the resolution because it equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism,” said Republican Rep Thomas Massie of Kentucky, one of the two members that voted against it. “Anti-Semitism is deplorable, but expanding it to include criticism of Israel is not helpful”.

Democratic Rep, Rashida Tlaib, of Michigan, the sole Palestinian American in Congress, voted “present”, citing concerns that the resolution neglected the existence of the Palestinian people and failed to contribute to peaceful co-existence. “Both Israelis and Palestinians have the right to live with democracy, safety, peace and human dignity,” Tlaib said in a statement. “This resolution that ignores the existence of the Palestinian people brings us no closer to peaceful co-existence.”

Palestinians, too, have a right to live in their “historic homeland” and should not be “subjugated as second-class citizens,” Tlaib added.

READ: The pro-Israel lobbies and the Israel-Palestine conundrum

The resolution, while acknowledging historical facts about the Holocaust and the persecution of Jews, notably omitted any mention of the Palestinians and their historical claims in the region. Prior to the influx of European Zionists, 95 per cent of the population of Palestine comprised of Muslim and Christian Palestinians. Despite the fact that only 5 per cent of Jews were native and indigenous to Palestine, Tuesday’s resolution declared that Jewish people are “native to the land of Israel.”

Votes were cast, despite expressing frustration over the resolution.  Rep Jamaal Bowman of New York questioned the frequent recurrence of such resolutions. “It seems like we vote on some form of this resolution every single week,” said Bowman. “Do Palestinians have a right to exist? Is someone going to write that resolution? And when it’s written, are we going to vote on it, or are we going to continue to have one conversation without the other?”

This development unfolds amid heightened scrutiny of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, leading to increased dialogue within the Democratic Party about placing conditions on aid to Israel. “For many years, the United States has provided Israel substantial sums of money — with close to no strings attached,” Sen Bernie Sanders of Vermont wrote in a recent op-ed, saying that “while we are friends of Israel, there are conditions to that friendship” and that “we cannot be complicit in actions that violate international law and our own sense of decency.”