GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP/AP) — A Jewish congresswoman from Greensboro, North Carolina, was among 22 House Democrats who voted late Tuesday to censure Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — the only Palestinian American in Congress — an extraordinary rebuke of Tlaib’s rhetoric about the Israel-Hamas war.
Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) was joined by two other North Carolina Democratic representatives — Reps. Don Davis, of Snow Hill, and Wiley Nickel, of Cary — and all seven of the state’s Republican representatives — Reps. Dan Bishop, of Charlotte; Chuck Edwards, of Flat Rock; Virginia Foxx, of Banner Elk; Richard Hudson, of Southern Pines; Patrick McHenry, of Lake Norman; Gregory Murphy, of Greenville; and David Rouzer, of Wilmington.
Four North Carolina Democrats — Reps. Alma Adams, of Charlotte; Valerie Foushee, of Hillsborough; Jeff Jackson, of Charlotte; and Deborah Ross, of Raleigh — voted against the resolution.
Tlaib was censured, a punishment one step below expulsion from the House, by a vote of 234-188.
The three-term congresswoman has long been a target of criticism for her views on the decades-long conflict in the Middle East. Tlaib, who has family in the West Bank, came under heavy reproval after she did not immediately condemn Hamas, a government-identified terrorist group, after an Oct. 7 attack left hundreds of Israelis dead and scores injured.
Manning: ‘Today I voted to censure Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’
Manning, who represents North Carolina’s 6th District in the U.S. House of Representatives and was the first woman to serve as Board Chair of the Jewish Federations of North America from 2009 to 2012, responded to what she referred to as Tlaib’s “willful spreading of misinformation that is fomenting antisemitism” in a statement on Tuesday.
“Today I voted to censure Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib for her willful spreading of misinformation that is fomenting antisemitism. In the aftermath of Hamas’ brutal attack on Israeli civilians on October 7, Congresswoman Tlaib has repeatedly shared false information online, in the press, and in public remarks, that has been discredited by United States intelligence. These actions have contributed to an increase in antisemitic language and violence.
Despite United States intelligence that debunks Congresswoman Tlaib’s inaccurate claims, she continues to spread false information online, blaming Israel for atrocities carried out by Hamas. She has repeatedly spread Hamas’ inflammatory propaganda by defending the use of slogans such as ‘from the river to the sea’, which calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and genocide of the Jewish people.
I share my colleague’s deep concern for the growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. My heart breaks for the loss of innocent life and the suffering of civilians in the region. But spreading propaganda and misinformation will not bring about the peace we all seek. The only way to do that is to stop the spread of misinformation, support all efforts to bring the hostages home, and pass an aid package that gives Israel the resources it needs to defend itself from terrorism and includes life-sustaining humanitarian aid for civilians. Allowing Israel to defeat Hamas terrorists will ensure that Hamas cannot continue to use Palestinian civilians as human shields.
As Members of Congress, our words are meaningful. They can uplift people, or they can be destructive. We must remain committed to condemning the wanton spread of misinformation and hatred. I call on Congresswoman Tlaib to remove the erroneous information from her social media accounts and work with her colleagues to support the dissolution of terrorist organization Hamas so we may have two states living side by side in peace.Rep. Kathy Manning
The North Carolina representative accused Tlaib of sharing “Hamas’ inflammatory propaganda,” as well as information “that has been discredited by United States intelligence” online.
She specifically called out Tlaib’s use of the slogan “from the river to the sea,” which Manning says “calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and genocide of the Jewish people.”
“I call on Congresswoman Tlaib to remove the erroneous information from her social media accounts and work with her colleagues to support the dissolution of terrorist organization Hamas so we may have two states living side by side in peace,” Manning said in part.
Tlaib: ‘I will continue to work for a just and lasting peace’
Tlaib released a statement after the censure, criticizing her colleagues for being, in her words, “more focused on silencing me than they are on saving lives, as the death toll in Gaza surpasses 10,000.”
“It’s a shame my colleagues are more focused on silencing me than they are on saving lives, as the death toll in Gaza surpasses 10,000. Many of them have shown me that Palestinian lives simply do not matter to them, but I still do not police their rhetoric or actions. Rather than acknowledge the voice and perspective of the only Palestinian American in Congress, my colleagues have resorted to distorting my positions in resolutions filled with obvious lies. I have repeatedly denounced the horrific targeting and killing of civilians by Hamas and the Israeli government, and have mourned the Israeli and Palestinian lives lost.
“Meanwhile, each day that passes without a ceasefire brings more death and destruction upon innocent civilians, who have nowhere safe to go, drawing outrage and condemnation from the American people and the international community. A majority of Americans support a ceasefire, but this Congress isn’t listening to their voices. I will continue to call for a mutual ceasefire, for the release of hostages and those arbitrarily detained, for the immediate delivery of humanitarian aid, and for every American to be brought home. I will continue to work for a just and lasting peace that upholds the human rights and dignity of all people, centers peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians, and ensures that no person, no child has to suffer or live in fear of violence.”Rep. Rashida Tlaib
Tlaib said that she has called for “a mutual ceasefire, for the release of hostages and those arbitrarily detained, for the immediate delivery of humanitarian aid, and for every American to be brought home” and will continue to do so.
“I have repeatedly denounced the horrific targeting and killing of civilians by Hamas and the Israeli government, and have mourned the Israeli and Palestinian lives lost.”
In response to similar criticism of her use of the slogan “From the river to the sea,” Tlaib defended the phrase in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“From the river to the sea is an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate,” Tlaib said. “My work and advocacy is always centered in justice and dignity for all people no matter faith or ethnicity.”
Debate over censure
All Democrats initially stood by Tlaib and helped defeat the first censure resolution against her last week. But since then, many of her colleagues, including prominent Jewish members, have become more conflicted about her rhetoric about the war, especially because of her use of the controversial slogan.
The latest censure push resulted in a dramatic vote on the House floor amid political tensions over the ongoing, deadly Israel-Hamas war. While the majority of both parties have historically stood firmly on the side of Israel, divisions have emerged in the Democratic Party about the American response.
Republican Rep. Rich McCormick of Georgia pushed the measure in response to what he called Tlaib’s promotion of antisemitic rhetoric. He said she has “levied unbelievable falsehoods about our greatest ally, Israel, and the attack on October 7.”
Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Illinois), the lone Democrat to vote with Republicans on Tuesday to advance the censure resolution, said he believed it was important to debate the slogan “from the river to the sea.”
“It is nothing else but the call for the destruction of Israel and murder of Jews,” the Jewish Democrat said. “I will always defend the right to free speech. Tlaib has the right to say whatever she wants.”
He added, “But it cannot go unanswered.”
With other Democrats standing by her side, Tlaib defended her stance, saying she “will not be silenced and I will not let you distort my words.” She added that her criticism of Israel has always been directed toward its government and its leadership under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“It is important to separate people and government,” she said. “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.”
Ultimately, more than 20 House Democrats, including Manning, joined Republicans on Tuesday night to censure her after an effort to shelve the measure failed earlier in the day.
While the censure of a lawmaker carries no practical effect, it amounts to severe reproach from colleagues, as lawmakers who are censured are usually asked to stand in the well of the House as the censure resolution against them is read aloud. But the resolution against Tlaib did not call for the public admonishment.
With the vote, Tlaib will become the second Muslim-American woman in Congress to be formally admonished this year for her criticism of Israel. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) was removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee in February for similar comments she made about Israel.
While the vote against Tlaib takes place against the extraordinary backdrop of the war, the push to censure her is part of a growing pattern in the House.
Censure had long been viewed as a punishment of last resort, just one step below expulsion and to be triggered only for the most egregious wrongdoing. But censure resolutions are quickly becoming routine in the chamber, often wielded in strikingly partisan ways.
Many Democrats and some Republicans who opposed censuring Tlaib cited free speech and warned of the precedent it would set.
“This resolution not only degrades our Constitution, but it cheapens the meaning of discipline in this body for people who actually commit wrongful actions like bribery, fraud, violent assault and so on,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., who defended Tlaib against the resolution on the floor late Tuesday.
A second resolution by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia), to censure Tlaib had also been scheduled for a procedural vote late Tuesday night. But that measure was put on hold after the censure resolution from McCormick advanced to a final vote.
Tlaib is now the 26th person to ever be censured by the chamber, and the second just this year. In June, Republicans voted to censure Democrat Adam Schiff of California for comments he made several years ago about investigations into then-President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.
When the House was under Democratic control, Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona was censured in 2021 for tweeting an animated video that depicted him striking Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York with a sword. And Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel of New York was censured in 2010 over serious financial and campaign misconduct.