Rep. Rashida Tlaib sparks controversy in heated debate over funding for Israel

Daughter of Palestinian immigrants only lawmaker to speak against the funding

Comments made by Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives made headlines Thursday.
Comments made by Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives made headlines Thursday.

DETROIT – Comments made by Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives made headlines Thursday.

Tlaib referred to Israel as an apartheid state, which brought cries of anti-Semitism. She had succeeded in removing from a bill funding for the $1 billion Iron Dome Defense System in Israel, which then came up in a separate bill Thursday. Tlaib advocated against the funding in a way that some have found controversial.

Read: House OKs $1 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome defense system

“We cannot be talking only about Israelis’ need for safety at a time when Palestinians are living under a violent apartheid system,” Tlaib said.

Tlaib argued that it was a manufactured crisis, causing several Jewish members of Congress to denounce her comments.

Fellow Michigan Rep. Any Levin voted for the funding.

“She talks about Israel in a way that I disagree with strongly,” Levin said. “We respect each other, we disagree, we talk about our differences.”

Rabbi Asher Lopatin, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, said he doesn’t believe that Tlaib is anti-Semitic, but the language used could be seen as anti-Semitic.

“To call Israel an apartheid state is to use nasty language designed to put The Jewish State outside the realm of morality,” Lopatin said. “She could be such an important voice in bringing Palestinians and Israelis together.”

Tlaib responded to Local 4 with the following statement:

In the end, the bill passed 420 to 9 with two present votes. One of those belonged to New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.

Earlier in the year, President Joe Biden assure Israel’s leadership the Iron Dome funding would come. Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett thanked Congress for its vote Thursday night.

Related: Rep. Andy Levin introduces bill to help curb conflict in the Middle East


About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.