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Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) grew emotional during a Tuesday floor speech floor speech on amid debate on a resolution to censure the congresswoman for her criticism of Israel, following Hamas’s attack on its civilians last month.
Tlaib, the only Palestinian-American member of Congress, fought back tears as she defended herself and her people after the House advanced the censure resolution, teeing up a final vote on the measure.
“I can’t believe I have to say this. But Palestinian people are not disposable,” Tlaib said, as her voice quivered. She paused for nearly 20 seconds, as she appeared to try to keep her breathing and voice steady. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) walked over to Tlaib and put her hand on Tlaib’s arm, seemingly trying to comfort her colleague.
“We are human beings just like anyone else,” Tlaib continued, her voice still shaking, as she lifted and displayed a picture of her grandmother. “My grandmother, like all Palestinians, just wants to live her life with freedom and human dignity we all deserve. Speaking up to save lives, Mr. Chair, no matter faith, no matter ethnicity, should not be controversial in this chamber.”
“The cries of…Palestinian and Israeli children sound no different to me,” she said. “What I don’t understand is why the cries of Palestinian sound different to you all. We cannot lose our shared humanity.”
The resolution to censure Tlaib for her comments advanced Tuesday after, after the chamber voted down a Democratic-led motion to kill the resolution 208-213-1. One Democrat voted to advance the measure, and six Republicans voted against it.
Democrats, in their defense of Tlaib, have argued that Tlaib is being punished for political speech, not for any action. And while many have said they disagree with Tlaib’s remarks, they argue she should still be permitted to exercise her First Amendment rights.
A final vote on the resolution is expected on Wednesday.