Rashida Tlaib is first Palestinian-American elected to Congress
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Rashida Tlaib is first Palestinian-American elected to Congress

Tlaib ran unopposed in Michigan’s 13th district; she has said she favors a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has opposed United States aid to Israel

In this Oct. 26, 2018 file photo, Rashida Tlaib, Democratic candidate for the Michigan's 13th Congressional District, smiles during a rally in Dearborn, Mich. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
In this Oct. 26, 2018 file photo, Rashida Tlaib, Democratic candidate for the Michigan's 13th Congressional District, smiles during a rally in Dearborn, Mich. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

Rashida Tlaib on Tuesday became the first Palestinian-American elected to the US Congress when she won Michigan’s 13th district.

She will also be one of the first Muslim women in Congress, along with Ilhan Omar, who is expected to win in Minnesota. Tlaib ran unopposed, but fended off a late write-in challenge from the woman she defeated in the primaries.

“The first thing I think about when somebody says you’re going to be the first Muslim is celebrate this moment,” she told CBS. “We changed the course of history at a time we thought it was impossible. And that if you just believe, believe in the possibility of someone like me.”

Republicans, who charge that the Democratic Party has departed from its pro-Israel bona fides point to Tlaib and Omar as proof. Tlaib favors a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has opposed United States aid to Israel.

Tlaib, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, said in recent interviews that she favors a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as opposed to a two-state solution that would establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Asked whether she would consider slashing military aid to Israel with Britain’s Channel 4, Tlaib responded, “Absolutely, if it has something to do with inequality and not access to people having justice. For me, US aid should be leverage. I will be using my position in Congress so that no country, not one, should be able to get aid from the US when they still promote that kind of injustice.

“So much is about ‘let’s choose a side,’” she continued, opining on the Israeli-Arab conflict. “I am for making sure that every single person there has every right to thrive.”

In a subsequent interview with In These Times magazine, Tlaib endorsed a one-state solution and supported the free speech rights of BDS activists, who push for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.

Minneapolis Representative Ilhan Omar delivers a speech at the 162nd General Assembly of BIE, in Paris, Nov. 15, 2017 (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

“One state,” she said in response to a question about whether she supports a one- or two-state solution. “It has to be one state. Separate but equal does not work. I’m only 42 years old but my teachers were of that generation that marched with Martin Luther King. This whole idea of a two-state solution, it doesn’t work.”

Omar, a Somalia-born community activist and representative in the State House, is favored to win in November in the 5th District now held by Keith Ellison, who won the DFL primary for state attorney general. DFL is the state’s Democratic Party. Ellison was the first Muslim elected to Congress, in 2006.

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