Rashida Tlaib, the newly elected Democratic congresswoman from Michigan, plans to lead a trip of incoming US lawmakers to the West Bank.
Tlaib, who is Palestinian-American and one of the first two Muslim women to be elected to the United States Congress, discussed her plans in an article in The Intercept published on Monday.
Her trip is a counterpoint to the traditional Israel trip for first-term lawmakers sponsored by the education arm of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, which includes touring and meetings with leading Israeli figures in business, government, and the military.
Tlaib told The Intercept that her trip will focus on issues like Israel’s detention of Palestinian children, education, access to clean water and poverty – and perhaps a visit to the northern West Bank village of Beit Ur al-Foqa, where her grandmother lives.
“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 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.”
She does not yet know when the trip will take place and which Palestinian advocacy group she will partner with to provide the thousands of dollars in needed funding.
Some newly elected Democrats told The Intercept that they are exploring the possibility of joining Tlaib’s alternative trip, but were not ready to comment publicly.
Tlaib in the interview also came out in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, which she said brings attention to “issues like the racism and the international human rights violations by Israel right now.”
Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, the other Muslim woman elected to Congress in November, said in an interview shortly after the election that she supports the BDS movement, after saying during her campaign that it was “counteractive” and prevents dialogue.