Major Focus: In a move that has stirred considerable controversy, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) was able to host a “Nakba Day” event on the Senate side of the Capitol complex after its cancellation by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). The event found a home in the hearing room of the Senate Health, Education Labor, and Pensions Committee, chaired by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). However, Sanders himself did not attend the event.
Why This Matters: “Nakba Day,” signifying “catastrophe” in Arabic, is a Palestinian commemoration of the establishment of the State of Israel. Tlaib’s event was sponsored by organizations that have shown support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel and, in some instances, endorsed terrorist activities.
The Pushback: Numerous critics have voiced strong opposition to the event. Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), co-chair of the Senate Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism, expressed deep offense at the characterization of Israel’s founding as a catastrophe, firmly disagreeing with the event being held on Capitol Hill. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), ranking member on the HELP Committee, condemned the usage of the Committee room for a divisive event.
Anti-Israel Sentiments Run High: During the event, Tlaib made pointed accusations against Israel, referring to it as an “apartheid state,” accusing Israeli police of a “sustained campaign of terror” against Muslim worshippers, and claiming that U.S. military aid supports “ethnic cleansing”.
The Uncomfortable Complicity: Not all voices were against the event. Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA), the No. 3 House Democratic leader, expressed that it was “unfortunate” that McCarthy had canceled the event and emphasized the right of individuals to express their viewpoints.
What’s Next: In the wake of this controversial event, it remains to be seen how both the House and Senate will address the issue and what actions they might take to prevent similar occurrences in the future.