The White House on Wednesday condemned Representative Rashida Tlaib for embracing a phrase used by some pro-Palestinian groups, a day after the House censured her for her statements regarding the Israel-Hamas war.
The White House was referring specifically to the phrase “from the river to the sea,” a slogan widely regarded as a rallying cry for the eradication of Israel.
Ms. Tlaib, the only Palestinian American in Congress, has said the slogan is “an aspirational call for freedom, human rights and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction or hate.” Pro-Palestinian protesters used the slogan in a video Ms. Tlaib recently posted online that accused President Biden of supporting genocide in the Gaza Strip.
“When it comes to the phrase that was used, ‘from the river to the sea,’ it is divisive, it is hurtful, many find it hurtful and many find it antisemitic,” said Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House spokeswoman, on Wednesday. “We categorically reject applying that term to the conflict.”
The House passed a resolution Tuesday evening to censure Ms. Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan, for embracing that phrase and “promoting false narratives” surrounding Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel that killed about 1,400 people, mostly civilians.
A video that Ms. Tlaib released Friday said that Mr. Biden “supported the genocide of the Palestinian people,” and she warned the president, who is from her own party, that “we will remember in 2024.”
A genocide is defined as the deliberate and systematic killing of members of a particular ethnic, national, racial or religious group in order to annihilate that group. The Israeli military has said it is targeting Hamas, which carried out terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians, not the Palestinian people.
The White House did not comment on the video last week and on Wednesday Ms. Jean-Pierre declined to comment on the House’s censure.
“We respect that there are strong feelings about the war,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said. “We have expressed our views ourselves in public and in private conversations with Israeli officials.”
But, she added, “Remember, Israel is defending itself from terrorists.”
The censure resolution, which passed 234 to 188, with 22 Democrats voting in favor, cited Ms. Tlaib’s use of the phrase “from the river to the sea,” which the Anti-Defamation League deems antisemitic. The resolution called the phrase “a genocidal call to violence to destroy the state of Israel and its people to replace it with a Palestinian state extending from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.”
Kayla Guo contributed reporting.
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