First Palestinian-American Congresswoman in the US, Rashida Tlaib, announced that she will be leading the delegation group to visit the West Bank rather than the traditional trip to Israel.
Under usual circumstances, newly elected delegate members go on a trip to Israel, under the guidance of American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC) to better understand the Middle Eastern political context and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
However, Tlaib says that these “lavish” week long trip with mostly Israeli-hosted events and tours turn a blind eye to what is really happening here, with AIPAC not providing a “real and fair lens” onto the situation on the ground.
With a focus of education, clean water and poverty, Tlaib hopes to shed light on the human cost of Israel’s segregation. Visiting her mother’s village, Beit Ur al-Foqa, in northern West Bank, she wants her delegation to “humanise Palestinians”.
This announcement was accompanied by Tlaib’s publicly-voiced support of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement: “I personally support the BDS movement,” as it is effective in addressing and tackling “issues like the racism and the international human rights violations by Israel right now.”
This comes following Ilhan Omar’s – one of the only other Muslim woman in US history to be elected to the US house – support for BDS, which recieved a lot of backlash and accusations of antisemitism.
Although unsure of who will join her delegates’ trip nor who she will partner with for funding of the trip, Tlaib tells The Intercept that her aim is to open a window into the contested situation so that her colleagues see “segregation and how that has really harmed us being able to achieve real peace in that region”.