House Foreign Affairs Chair Criticizes Tlaib for Planned Trip to the West Bank

Rashida Tlaib
Rashida Tlaib

Rep. Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called out Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) for her plan to lead a congressional delegation to the West Bank.

"Instead of her talking about things, she’s new here, she ought to listen and learn and open her mind and then come to some conclusions," Engel told Al-Monitor. "If you’re going to be close-minded and have your views, no one’s going to change her views. But I would hope that once you’re elected to Congress, you would at least care to see the other side of the coin."

Tlaib intended her trip as an alternative to an AIPAC-organized trip for freshmen members of Congress to see Israel. To organize her opposition trip, Tlaib would need to get approval from the House speaker or the leader of a committee on which they sit. Engel and Tlaib do not sit on the same committees.

"I want us to see that segregation [between Israelis and Palestinians] and how that has really harmed us being able to achieve real peace in that region," Tlaib told the Intercept before she took office. "I don’t think AIPAC provides a real, fair lens into this issue."

Tliab is the first Palestinian-American woman and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. She supports the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement, which advocates for the boycott of Israeli organizations and companies to support Palestinian interests. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) is the only other member of Congress to support BDS, but she has not spoken on a trip to the West Bank.

Recently, Tlaib has come under fire for her ties to accused anti-Semitic leaders, including Palestinian activist Maher Abdel-qader, who organized campaign events for Tlaib. Abdel-qader has frequently denied the Holocaust and suggested Israel is committing a Holocaust of its own. He has helped organize and appeared at a number of events with Tlaib.