Historic Censure in Congress

November 8, 2023

The idea that criticizing the government of Israel is antisemitic sets a very dangerous precedent. And it’s been used to silence diverse voices speaking up for human rights across our nation.

United States Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) in a speech on the House floor prior to the House voting 234-188 to censure her for her comments on the Israel-Hamas war. Rep. Tlaib serves as the only Palestinian American in Congress.

Why It Matters: The 26th censure in the history of House of Representatives – a rare and unusual sign of public disapproval with no official additional punishment. 22 Democrats voted with the majority of Republicans to censure Rep. Tlaib for “promoting false narratives regarding the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel and for calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.” The vote stemmed from Tlaib’s rhetoric regarding the now month-long Israel-Hamas war, including a video she posted on social media of protestors chanting,From the river to the sea – which Tlaib described as an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence,” while others widely view it as antisemitic. Rep. Max Miller (R-OH), one of the two Jewish Republicans in the House, described the phrase as, “an aspiration to erase the state of Israel and its people, the Jewish people who call it home …”

Worth Noting: Censuring a representative does not expel the individual or deny them rights within their role, rather it “registers the House’s deep disapproval of Member misconduct,” as outlined by the House historical website. Dating back to 1832, 26 representatives have now been censured. Prior to Rep. Tlaib, the House most recently voted to censure Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) in June.

Read More:

House votes to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib over her Israel-Hamas rhetoric in a stunning rebuke (The Associated Press)

Here’s a link to the text of the censure.

by Emily Hooker, based in Texas