Rozina Ali profiles Rashida Tlaib, the 45-year-old second-term congresswoman from Detroit, who has risen from adverse circumstances to play a significant role in American politics, most notably bringing greater awareness to the ongoing conflict over Palestine.
Tlaib is the only Palestinian American serving in the House of Representatives, and the first with family currently living in the West Bank, whose three million inhabitants’ lives are, as Ali explains, “intimately shaped by American support for Israel.”
The article explores the criticism leveled at Tlaib, sometimes viciously, by Republicans and pro-Israel Democrats for calling Israel an “apartheid regime,” and for her support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which aims to end military occupation by exerting economic pressure on Israel. She has been called antisemitic for her criticism of Israeli policies, and has become a favored quarry of Fox News.
But, as Ali explains, Tlaib’s arrival on the national stage coincided with an opening, albeit a small one, within the Democratic Party to challenge the United States’ Israel policy. At the same time that the left has gained a legible footing on the national stage, the Palestinian cause has become a significant part of the politics of the American left. And so Tlaib, a democratic socialist more outspoken on domestic issues than she is on the Palestinian cause, has found herself at the center of this turn.
Tlaib stands up for many causes — but what, exactly, does she represent?
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Additional production for The Sunday Read was contributed by Emma Kehlbeck, Parin Behrooz, Anna Diamond, Sarah Diamond, Jack D’Isidoro, Elena Hecht, Desiree Ibekwe, Tanya Pérez, Marion Lozano, Naomi Noury, Krish Seenivasan, Corey Schreppel, Margaret Willison, Kate Winslett and Tiana Young. Special thanks to Mike Benoist, Sam Dolnick, Laura Kim, Julia Simon, Lisa Tobin, Blake Wilson and Ryan Wegner.