December 5, 2018
WASHINGTON — One day after Nancy Pelosi, likely the next speaker of the House of Representatives, told Israel advocates to rest easy with Democrats in control of the lower chamber, one of her newly elected party members announced support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement — and a planned delegation trip to the West Bank.
That member, Rashida Tlaib, is herself the first Palestinian-American women ever elected to Congress. The Michigan lawmaker campaigned in favor of a two-state solution until just weeks before the midterm elections last month, when she backtracked from her support, suggesting she instead favored a unitary state with Arab majority control.
Now, in an interview with the Intercept, Tlaib has explicitly endorsed the BDS movement and announced she would buck an annual trip to Israel hosted by the American Public Affairs Committee for freshman congressmen, instead organizing a competing delegation to "occupied Palestine," according to the report.
"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 the Intercept 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."
Tlaib also cleared up any doubts over her position on the BDS movement, which is currently the target of several bills making its way through Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support. "I personally support the BDS movement," Tlaib said.
Tlaib is joined by at least two other freshmen congressmen who, throughout their campaigns, expressed deep animosity toward the Jewish state: Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. Omar's staff has said she supports the BDS movement, while Ocasio-Cortez has said she plans on highlighting Palestinian rights during her time in office.
But Democratic sources say the party leadership considers the focus on this handful of vocal freshmen as out of proportion to their influence, or their representation in the caucus.
At the Israeli-American Council on Sunday, Pelosi said that she expected a strong year for Israel advocates in Washington.
"We have people very well placed to share our values in terms of Israel in the heart and in spirit," she said, listing several future committee chairs with staunch records friendly to Israel. "Remove all doubt in your mind. It's just a question of not paying attention to a few people who may want to go their own way."
The expected speaker was asked what she expected would result from a White House peace effort between Israelis and Palestinians, likely to rile debate on Capitol Hill over the best path forward in the storied conflict. When Pelosi said she hoped for an endorsement of a two-state solution, she received boos from the conservative crowd.
"I know there is controversy," she replied, "but understand the extreme left wants a one state solution, Palestinian only."