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Kevin McCarthy blocks ‘Squad’ member Tlaib from holding an anti-Israel event at the Capitol

By Savannah Hamilton
|
May 14, 2023

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy attempted to shut down Representative Rashida Tlaib’s (MI-12) planned anti-Israel event at the Capitol. The event, which was scheduled for Wednesday, May 10th, would serve as an opportunity to educate Congress and “uplift the experiences of Palestinians who underwent the Nakba,” said Tlaib.

Nakba literally means “catastrophe” in Arabic and refers to the “ethnic cleansing” that started when Israel was established on what some consider to be rightfully Palestinian land.

“This event in the US Capitol is canceled,” McCarthy tweeted on Tuesday, adding, “Instead, I will host a bipartisan discussion to honor the 75th anniversary of the US-Israel relationship.”

He also added that “It's wrong for members of Congress to traffic in anti-Semitic tropes about Israel. As long as I’m speaker, we are going to support Israel’s right to self-determination and self-defense, unequivocally and in a bipartisan fashion.

Progressive or Racist?

Tlaib, the first Congresswoman of Palestinian heritage and a member of the “Squad,” has long voiced pro-Palestinian views. In a recent tweet, she wrote that “the Nakba continues to this day.”

Some people view her comments as anti-semitic.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, for example, recently stated that Rashida Tlaib “has repeatedly used antisemitic tropes” and is hosting the event “to attack Israel with groups that defend terrorism and support the antisemitic BDS movement.”

McCarthy appears to be on Israel’s side as well and has even recently attended a congregational delegation in the Middle Eastern country. There, he addressed the Israeli parliament and pledged once again that the US stands with their country.

He has also repeatedly asked President Joe Biden to host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — something Biden appears to be reluctant about.

The Show Must Go On

Despite McCarthy’s efforts to block Tlaib’s event, she managed to host it anyway on the Senate side.

“I think folks need to be reminded, nothing stops Detroit,” she said in a recent video interview.

The event was titled, “Nakba 75 & the Palestinian People.” The 75 refers to the 75th anniversary of Israel’s establishment, which is officially recognized on May 17th.

Key attendees included Representative Cori Bush (MO-01), Human Rights Attorney Noura Erakat, and several Nakba survivors who gave personal testimonies about their experiences.

Tlaib also shared her thoughts in a speech, saying that, “The Nakba never ended. Each year our country sends billions to explicitly maintain an apartheid state and support ethnic cleansing without a second thought.”

Tlaib and Bush were reportedly the only lawmakers present.

Going Behind the Back

Instead of using the Congressional Auditorium at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, the location was changed to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Hearing Room in the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

According to the New York Post, Senator Bernie Sanders approved this move, without asking other members of the Senate for permission.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer reportedly was caught in shock and said the was “totally unaware” of what was happening.

Other Senate members were also not happy with the outcome with Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy stating, “I wholeheartedly disapprove of the Majority permitting the use of the HELP Committee room for this divisive event. The Capitol Grounds should not be used as a pedestal to legitimize anti-Semitic bigotry.”

Several groups behind the event, are considered controversial. The Institute for Middle East Understanding apparently is “one of the top propagators of false anti-Israel rhetoric on social media.”

Jewish Voice for Peace is also not well-received and described as a “radical anti-Israel activist group that advocates for a complete economic, cultural and academic boycott of the state of Israel” and “celebrates figures who have been convicted of engaging in terrorism.”

Tlaib has not made any further comment following the event and continues to voice pro-Palestine opinions.