U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib introduced a House Resolution on Monday calling for the U.S. government to officially commemorate the Nakba — the Arabic word for "catastrophe," or the expulsion of Palestinians from what is now Israel, following its 74th anniversary on Sunday.
"This Sunday was a day of solemn remembrance of all the lives lost, families displaced, and neighborhoods destroyed during the violent and horror of the Nakba," Tlaib said in a statement. "The scars bourn by the close to 800,000 Palestinians who were forced from their family homes and their communities, and those killed are burned into the souls of the people who lived through the Nakba."
The Nakba is not over. This year's commemoration followed news that Israeli Police attacked the funeral of Palestinian American reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who was fatally shot while covering an Israeli raid on a refugee camp in the West Bank.
"As the assassination of Shireen Abu Akleh last week made all too clear, the violence and war crimes are an ongoing and ever-present assault on the existence and humanity of the Palestinian people," Tlaib continued. "The Israeli apartheid government's ongoing ethnic cleansing seeks to degrade Palestinian humanity and break the will of the people to be free. Fortunately, as Palestinians and their allies prove time and time again, we will persist no matter the circumstances until peace, freedom, equity, and respect for all people are secured and protected."
The resolution calls for the U.S. government to commemorate the Nakba through official recognition and remembrance; reject Nakba denialism; encourage education and public understanding of the facts of the Nakba; continue to support the provision of social service to Palestinian refugees through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East; and support the implementation of Palestinian refugees' rights as enshrined in United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The legislation is supported by U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota), Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota), and Marie Newman (D-Illinois). It is endorsed by Jewish Voice for Peace Action (JVP Action), Americans for Justice in Palestine Action, Project48, and the United States Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR).
Tlaib was the first woman of Palestinian descent to be elected to Congress. For her inauguration in 2019, she wore a traditional Palestinian thobe and was sworn in using a Quran.
Her grandmother still lives in the West Bank. In 2019, she planned to lead the first Congressional delegation to the West Bank, but Israel would only let her come if she promised not to promote a boycott while on the trip. Tlaib canceled the trip out of principle.
"The Israeli government used my love and desire to see my grandmother to silence me and made my ability to do so contingent upon my signing a letter — reflecting just how undemocratic and afraid they are of the truth my trip would reveal about what is happening in the State of Israel and to Palestinians living under occupation with United States support," she said at the time, adding "Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother's heart. Silencing me with treatment to make me feel less-than is not what she wants for me — it would kill a piece of me that always stands up against racism and injustice."
Tlaib has called for President Joe Biden to speak out against Israeli violence toward Palestinians. Last year, she confronted Biden at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport tarmac about the issue. Later, during a visit to a Ford Motor Co. plant in Dearborn, Biden addressed Tlaib during his speech, saying, "I admire your intellect, I admire your passion, and I admire your concern for so many other people. And it's my from my heart, I pray that your grandmom and family are well — I promise I’m going to do everything you see that they are in the West Bank. You're a fighter, and God thank you for being a fighter."