US House censures lone Palestinian-American lawmaker  

22 Democrats joined with most Republicans in the chamber to censure Tlaib for allegedly “promoting false narratives” on Hamas’ Oct. 7 gun rampage in Israel…reports Asian Lite News

The US House voted on Tuesday to censure Democratic Representative Rashida Tlaib, Congress’s lone Palestinian-American lawmaker, for comments she made regarding Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza.

Twenty-two Democrats joined with most Republicans in the chamber to censure Tlaib for allegedly “promoting false narratives” on Hamas’ Oct. 7 gun rampage in Israel and “calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.”

The motion was sponsored by Republican Representative Richard McCormick. The final vote tally in the Republican-controlled chamber was 234-188 in favor of censure. Four Republicans voted against the motion, while three Democrats and one Republican abstained.

Tlaib has repeatedly condemned Hamas’s assault, which killed some 1,400 people, while also criticizing US support for Israel as the country’s military retaliates with bombardment that has killed thousands of Palestinians in Gaza.

The measure specifically cited a video Tlaib published on social media containing the phrase “from the river to the sea,” a pro-Palestinian rallying cry that is viewed by many Jews as antisemitic and calling for Israel’s eradication.

She also enraged many fellow Democrats on Friday when she posted a video accusing President Joe Biden of supporting “the genocide of the Palestinian people.” Israel vehemently rejects accusations of genocide.

Tlaib rejected accusations of antisemitism during a speech on the House floor on Tuesday.

“I am the only Palestinian-American in Congress, and my perspective is needed more than ever,” Tlaib said.

“My criticism has always been of the Israeli government and (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu’s actions… The idea that criticizing the government of Israel is antisemitic sets a very dangerous precedent,” Tlaib said.

“Palestinian people are not disposable,” Tlaib added, taking a long pause as she became overcome with emotion. Her grandmother lives in a village in the occupied West Bank, a territory Israel captured in a 1967 war.

Representative Pete Aguilar, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, told reporters on Tuesday that while he “strenuously disagreed” with Tlaib’s remarks about Biden, he believed the censure motion was not productive.

The symbolic rebuke has no specific punishment. Although it was previously a rare measure used against members, it has become increasingly common in recent years.

Democrats censured Republican Representative Paul Gosar in 2021 for posting an animated video that depicted his character murdering Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Republicans censured Democrat Adam Schiff for his work investigating former President Donald Trump while he was in power.

Jewish man dies after altercation at protests

A Jewish man who fell to the ground in an altercation amid pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian street protests in California died on Monday, and his death was determined to be a homicide, law enforcement and a Jewish organization said.

Paul Kessler, 69, died of blunt force head trauma a day after the altercation on Sunday, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said, adding that witnesses described the incident as battery.

As of Monday night, no suspect was in custody in what the sheriff’s office said “appears to be isolated and not part of a large effort,” though it had not ruled out a hate crime.

The incident took place as emotions have run high in the US over the war between Israel and Hamas, with US officials and civil rights groups warning of increased threats against Jews, Muslims and Arab Americans since fighting broke out on Oct. 7.

Last month an Illinois man was charged with hate crimes for stabbing a six-year-old Muslim boy to death and wounding his mother in an attack that officials said targeted them for their religion in a response to the war.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles identified the victim as a Jewish man and labeled the incident as the fourth act of antisemitic violence in the Los Angeles area this year and the second since Oct. 7.

Separate pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrations occurred simultaneously on Sunday in the city of Thousand Oaks, about 65 km west of Los Angeles, the sheriff’s office said.

Kessler was involved in a physical altercation between counter-protesters, the sheriff’s office said, citing witness accounts. It did not specify which side instigated the altercation.

“During the altercation, Kessler fell backwards and struck his head on the ground. Kessler was transported to an area hospital for advanced medical treatment. On Nov. 6, 2023, Kessler succumbed to his injuries,” the statement said.

The leader of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, citing conversations with local government officials, said a pro-Palestinian protester had struck the victim on the head with a megaphone.

The Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations also expressed grief over what it called a “tragic and shocking loss,” while also asking people to “refrain from jumping to conclusions” or “sensationalizing such a tragedy for political gains.”

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