As her first act as Congresswoman-elect, Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat who will be representing Michigan’s 13th Congressional District, a seat formerly held by John Conyers, said she will lead a trip to the West Bank for fellow incoming members of Congress, in an interview with The Intercept published on Monday, Dec. 3.
The 13th District, which straddles the city of Detroit and the western Wayne County suburbs of Garden City and Westland, is among the nation’s poorest.
Tlaib also said she’d be skipping a junket trip to Israel sponsored by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israeli lobbying group, typically scheduled for freshmen legislators during the first August recess in every legislative session. The trip features a weeklong tour of Israel and meetings with leading Israeli figures in business, government and the military. The trip provides House members with a distinctly pro-Israel viewpoint on complex controversies in the region.
Tlaib, who is the first Palestinian-American woman to be elected to Congress, said she plans to draw on her roots to provide an alternative to the traditional AIPAC tour, which will be led once again this year by incoming Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., according to his spokesperson.
Tlaib told The Intercept that her tour will focus on issues “like Israel’s detention of Palestinian children, education, access to clean water and poverty.
“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. “I don’t think [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee] 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.”
Her tour may include a visit to Beit Ur al-Foqa, the village where Tlaib’s grandmother lives, in the northern West Bank.
The details of the planned trip and who will be joining her are pending.
During the interview, Tlaib also said she supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, an international boycott campaign known as “BDS” that seeks to push back against Israeli oppression of Palestinians.
Tlaib told The Intercept the boycotts are a way to shine a light on “issues like the racism and the international human rights violations by Israel right now.”
She is the second incoming member to announce support for BDS, following Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar.
The JN has reached out to both Rashida Tlaib and AIPAC for comment.
JNS.org contributed to this story.