Progressive Democrats tear into Israel from US House floor

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Rep. Ayana Pressley speaks from the House Floor on May 13, 2021. (Screen capture/US House of Representatives)
Rep. Ayana Pressley speaks from the House Floor on May 13, 2021. (Screen capture/US House of Representatives)

In brief speeches from the House floor, a group of progressive Democrats lambasts Israel for its response to Gaza rocket fire and over its treatment of Palestinians more broadly.

Fighting back tears throughout her remarks, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who is of Palestinian descent, says, “You’d hardly know Palestinians existed at all” based on recent statements from the Biden administration regarding the Gaza violence.

“We’re currently blocking the UN from calling for a ceasefire,” says Rep. Ilhan Omar, panning the Democratic administration and blasting Israel for its airstrikes in Gaza, which are in response to Hamas rocket fire.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez criticizes Israel more broadly for its actions in the West Bank and slams the government for banning Tlaib and Omar into the country in 2019 due to their support for BDS.

“We are anti-war, we are anti-occupation, and we are anti-apartheid,” says Rep. Cori Bush, adding that she stands in solidarity with Palestinians just as Palestinian activists stood with Black Americans in Ferguson Missouri.

Rep. Ayana Pressley calls for “equal outrage” over “state violence” be it in the US or Israel, panning Jerusalem for its crackdown on Palestinian protesters.

Reps. Marc Pocan and Betty McCollum speak in favor of legislation that they’ve co-sponsored, which seeks to prohibit US aid to Israel from being used in certain Israeli actions in the West Bank and would require the White House to compose an annual report detailing how much aid goes to such actions.

As the lawmakers spoke, staffers placed pictures of Palestinian children injured in Israeli airstrikes behind them.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who does not back the legislation gives a more moderate, but emotional speech, saying she is “horrified and saddened by the ongoing escalation of the painful cycle of violence.”

“Israel has the right to defend herself, but in the end, there are no winners,” she says, urging the Biden administration to broker a ceasefire.

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