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Rep. Dan Goldman defends vote to censure Rashida Tlaib over ‘genocidal’ Hamas slogan

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Following Congress’s vote Tuesday to censure Rashida Tlaib for embracing an anti-Semitic trope, among other things, during the current Middle East conflict, Representative Dan Goldman explained his vote. He also accused her of inflaming violence and spreading misinformation.

The House voted 234 to 188 to censure the Michigan congresswoman, the first Palestinian-American elected to Congress. Four Republicans voted against and 22 Democrats in favor of the resolution.

“The First Amendment protects free speech — including hate speech – for all, including members of Congress,” Goldman said in a statement. “But as elected officials held to the highest integrity, we are bestowed with the public trust that confers a greater responsibility with the words we choose. We therefore must not promote hate speech nor incite violence with our comments.

“During the past month, Representative Tlaib promoted misinformation that inflamed violence around the world, including against United States embassies, and used a hurtful, anti-Semitic trope central to Hamas’s charter – ‘from the river to the sea’ – that is widely understood to call for the elimination of Israel and all of the Jews living there. This expression has been widely used in support of violent protests against Israel around the world.

“I reached out to Representative Tlaib privately, in advance of Representative McCormick’s introduction of the censure resolution, to communicate to her the hurt and harm her words have caused and how they have been received by many in the Jewish community. I urged her to make a public clarification, but she refused.

“Just like we cannot allow public officials to make racist statements against any group nor to incite violence through racist speech, we cannot allow elected officials to do the same against Jews.

“For these reasons,” Goldman said, “I voted to censure Representative Tlaib, and will do so in the future for any member who uses discriminatory hate speech against any group – including the Muslim community – and inflames violence with false statements or misinformation.”

After Israel and the U.S. contradicted one-sided reports by The New York Times and others that Israel had bombed a Gaza hospital, Tlaib continued to publicly doubt whether the explosion next to the hospital was, in fact, caused by one of the Palestinians’ own many misfired rockets.

In her defense, Tlaib posted on X that the “from the river to the sea” chant — rather than genocidal — can be seen as “aspirational”: “From the river to the sea is an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate. My work and advocacy is always centered in justice and dignity for all people no matter faith or ethnicity.”

In a statement before Congress, Tlaib vowed, “I will not be silenced.”

Congress has censured only 26 individuals in its history.


  1. Wes Green Wes Green November 12, 2023

    Not surprising from Rep. Goldman. But from now on he’ll have do some fancy tap dancing to explain this vote. Rashida Tlaib is a moral giant among dwarfs.

  2. lynn pacifico lynn pacifico November 11, 2023

    Censorship is anti-democracy and anti-freedom and is a very very scary slippery slope. I do not understand how the Democratic Party doesn’t see that. Have we lost our critical thinking abilities?

  3. Carol Frances Yost Carol Frances Yost November 10, 2023

    I admire Rashida Tlaib and hate the way she is being treated. I am so angry at Rep. Goldman’s remarks, which are definitely inaccurate, that I can hardly get the words out. For one thing, I was a member of a pro-Palestinian activist group here in NYC for 13 years. “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” was a slogan many of us repeated. It had absolutely nothing to do with an attack on Israel or Jews in general; in fact, there were Jews in our organization, and there are Jewish organizations that are working to stop the oppression of the Palestinians. They know what that slogan that Dan Goldman calls antisemitic really is; it certainly isn’t antisemitic. Some people have claimed any criticism of Israel is antisemitic; it is not. Israel is a political entity, and what it does can be criticized the same way the actions of any other state can be.

    It has to do with the fact that this was originally Palestinian territory, and the Palestinians have been oppressed by Israel from Day One, when 750,000 Palestinians were driven out at gunpoint by Israeli soldiers, so that Israeli Jews could move into their homes or destroy their villages and build on top of them. Jewish Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has written “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” for anyone who doubts this. There are other notable Jewish historians and professors who can set Dan Goldman straight. I could mention Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein, and many more.

    I think the actions of Hamas were horrible, but you have to realize that the Palestinians have been driven beyond desperation by the way they’ve been treated. They are not free. Israel cannot bomb indiscriminately and say it’s fighting Hamas. It’s killed thousands of children, for one thing. Recently an independent news source did say that it looked as if Israel was the one that actually bombed the hospital, but that more research is needed.

    As I’ve said before, I don’t think there can be a two-state solution, but one state with equal rights for all would be best. Israel, which has no constitution, has laws specifically discriminating against anyone who isn’t Jewish.

    To be continued.

  4. Beth Beth November 10, 2023

    Tlaib has valid grounds to question claims that a misfired Palestinian missile was to blame for the hospital binning.

    “ After Israel and the U.S. contradicted one-sided reports by The New York Times and others that Israel had bombed a Gaza hospital, Tlaib continued to publicly doubt whether the explosion next to the hospital was, in fact, caused by one of the Palestinians’ own many misfired rockets.”

    NYTimes refutes those claims. Analysis of cited evidence shows that claims of the explosion being of Palestinian origin are inaccurate.

    NYTimes, October 23, 2023

    “The footage has become a widely cited piece of evidence as Israeli and American officials have made the case that an errant Palestinian rocket malfunctioned in the sky, fell to the ground and caused a deadly explosion at Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City.”

    “But a detailed visual analysis by The New York Times concludes that the video clip — taken from an Al Jazeera television camera livestreaming on the night of Oct. 17 — shows something else. The missile seen in the video is most likely not what caused the explosion at the hospital.”

    But there are plenty of other hospital bombings the Israeli government didn’t even try to disown.

  5. Jay Crockett Jay Crockett November 9, 2023

    From NPR this morning: “The Likud Party of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in its original party platform in 1977 that ‘between the Sea and the Jordan there will be only Israeli sovereignty’ As usual, there is a huge bias here.

  6. Jo Jo November 8, 2023

    I’ve been watching this one-sided support of Israeli human rights, while totally negating or ignoring the human and land rights of the original occupants of the area (unless you’re going back 2000 years to Biblical references as history). The Balfour Declaration gave Palestinian land to European Jews in 1917 because those “powers that be” wanted Jews out of Europe. This should be common knowlege underpinning all discussions of who should be living where. Progessive American Jews should be able to discern the difference between strong language during a time when thousands of Palestian civilians are being slaughtered and truly anti-Semitic remarks.

  7. Seth Seth November 8, 2023

    I think Rep. Goldman has it exactly right. While we all have freedom of speech, including Rep. Tlaib, that does not mean that everyone else has to agree with that speech. To the contrary, abhorrent speech demands a response. When the speech veers into racism, a strong response is appropriate, like censure.

    I am saddened that some of the commenters here do not seem to understand that the “River to the sea” slogan implies the elimination of the state of Israel, and do not acknowledge that Hamas calls not only for that elimination, but also for the killing of Jews, whether or not they are in the Israeli government or army, or perhaps even whether they are in Israel. The slogan is very hurtful to Jewish people, as is the (otherwise quite valid) attention given to the plight of Palestinian civilians without mentioning or seeming to care about the pogrom of Oct. 7, or the fact that over 200 innocent hostages were taken. Or the fact that freelance Palestinians joined in with Hamas in committing the terrorist acts of Oct. 7. Also, I’ve seen elsewhere Israel’s actions or history described as being “white European settler colonialism.” This ignores the fact that about 1/2 of Jewish Israelis are non-white, as well as rewrites history.

    We white liberals have over the last few years taken seriously the admonition from our Black friends that microaggressions are to be avoided, and that some of us, through our privileged upbringing, need to reexamine some of our unconscious attitudes. But there seems to be little similar concern for the feelings of Jews. There is currently a lot of antisemitism around, both of the blatantly open variety and also of the variety that reveals itself when people ignore or don’t care about the fact that Jews were the victims here, and instead repeat the rallying cry of Hamas and tear down posters of the hostages.

    Sure, Israel’s recent government policies are something to disagree with. Sure, Israel should try to avoid civilian casualties. But Israel has not only a right to defend itself, but a duty to defeat the Hamas terrorists. Tlaib thinks Palestine should go from the River to the Sea — i.e. eliminate Israel. If you understand the history of Israel and of the Jews, then you understand why this is inherently antisemitic.

  8. Peggy Friedman Peggy Friedman November 8, 2023

    Senator Jamie Raskin, who is a Jewish Democrat, said that he totally disagreed with her comments, but he did not vote for censure because it falls under free speech. While I found her statement annoying, to say the least, it seems less harmful than the actions of certain Republicans who supported the insurrectionists, and kept repeating the big lie that the election was “stolen.” Maybe the censure of Tlaib is a distraction from the behavior of MAGA reps and crooks like Santos.

  9. Mary Reinholz Mary Reinholz November 8, 2023

    Goldman’s statement strikes me as extremist and overly harsh as was the largely Republican House vote to censure Rep. Tlaib, the only Palestinian in Congress. Not a good look for free speech or democracy, imho.

  10. David R. Marcus David R. Marcus November 8, 2023

    Where was any hue and cry about the plight of Palestinians (a very legitimate concern) over months and years when the issue was ripe for discussion? And how dare anyone point to a moral equivalent of that to the barbaric and inhuman torture, murder, rape and capture of an innocent Israeli civilian population!!!

    There should not be any civilized human being who should not condemn those criminal acts but rather instead urge the militants on that side to work for the benefit of their people instead of tirelessly thwarting any attempt at a negotiated two-state solution.

    Shame on anyone who uses this to justify murder and inhuman acts in the name of legitimate protest!

  11. Anthony Donovan Anthony Donovan November 8, 2023

    If we are going to make a statement and base a vote on someone “spreading misinformation,” it would be wonderful to explain what the misinformation is exactly.

    If you know Rashida, she is NOT in any way a spreader of hate. On the Contrary. Her explanation of River to Sea is not what is insinuated, even if used in some others’ hate speech. It is not her reference. We urgently need to stop a moment from judging those who wish conversation and clarity, and listen to one another much, much more. Please do. Let’s stop the killing, please. All.

    • Barbara Ruether Barbara Ruether November 8, 2023

      Would that everyone would listen to her statement today. Her message was clear about the useless slaughter being conducted on ordinary Palestinians, who have been totally kept from dignity and life by Israels for decades and now incinerated into dust. Her plea was to beg for a respect for the truth and stopping the attempt to allow the right to survive as human beings.

  12. Amina Amina November 8, 2023

    Why does he have a problem with Palestinians being free? Will remember next election time.

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