Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) denounced Israel as an "apartheid state" on Tuesday, moments before she and several progressive members voted against a resolution asserting that the U.S. ally "is not a racist or apartheid state."
"Israel is an apartheid state. To assert otherwise, Mr. Speaker, in the face of this body of evidence, is an attempt to deny the reality and to normalize violence of apartheid," Tlaib said, raising her voice on the House floor Tuesday. The resolution supporting the Jewish state passed overwhelmingly, with only nine members voting against it, all members of the Progressive Caucus.
"Israel not a racist or apartheid state," the resolution stated, and the United States will "always be a staunch partner and supporter of Israel."
Tlaib's comments came one day before a joint session address to Congress by Israeli president Isaac Herzog, who will commemorate the 75th anniversary of Israel's founding.
Tlaib, who is of Palestinian heritage, and several other progressive House members, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.) have announced they plan to boycott Herzog's Wednesday speech.
"There is no way in hell I am attending the joint session address from a President whose country has banned me and denied @RashidaTlaib the ability to see her grandma," Omar said last week, referring to a 2019 incident in which the two Muslim congresswomen were denied entry to Israel over their calls to boycott the country. Tlaib ultimately rejected Israel's offer of a humanitarian visa.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), the chair of the Progressive Caucus, has been under fire since the weekend, when she dragged Israel during a speech in Chicago.
"Can I say something as somebody who's been in the streets and participated in a lot of demonstrations?" Jayapal told the crowd. "I want you to know that we have been fighting to make it clear that Israel is a racist state, that the Palestinian people deserve self-determination and autonomy."
House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) on Monday called out House Democrats for making anti-Semitic comments and blamed the Democratic Party for not holding them accountable.