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US: Nakba event takes place on Capitol Hill despite McCarthy's attempt to block

"Let the headlines read 'McCarthy tries to erase Palestine but fails'," says Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib
US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib speaks at an event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Nakba on Capitol Hill on 10 May 2023.
US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib speaks at an event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Nakba on Capitol Hill on 10 May 2023 (Twitter)

Despite US Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy's attempt at blocking an event commemorating the Nakba, or catastrophe, the event took place with scores of attendees filling into a room in the Capitol Building on Wednesday evening to learn about the forced expulsion of Palestinians by Zionist militias in 1948.

On Tuesday evening, after news of the Nakba commemoration began circulating in right-wing media outlets, McCarthy told the Washington Free Beacon that he reserved the Capitol Visitor Center where the event was set to take place.

"As long as I’m Speaker, we are going to support Israel’s right to self-determination and self-defense, unequivocally and in a bipartisan fashion," he said.

However, a day after McCarthy's remarks, Palestinian American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, a featured speaker at the event, tweeted out photos of the event and said: "Let the headlines read 'McCarthy tries to erase Palestine but fails'."

"This is the people’s Congress, and you all have a right to exist in this community and in this space," Tlaib told the crowd of attendees on Wednesday evening.

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The remembrance event, which marked the 75th anniversary of the Nakba, was organised by Jewish Voice for Peace Action, Democracy for the Arab World Now (Dawn) and the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU), among several others.

The Nakba, or "catastrophe" as it is known in English, is commemorated every year on 15 May and refers to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Zionist militias to make way for the creation of Israel in 1948.

Between 1947 and 1949, Zionist forces seized more than 78 percent of historic Palestine and expelled at least 750,000 Palestinians from their lands and homes.

In addition to Tlaib's remarks, the event featured several Palestinian speakers who discussed the history of Palestine and the events of the Nakba. Several survivors of the Nakba were also in attendance.

"No child should ever have to worry what will fall from the sky. Palestinians aren’t going anywhere. And we have a right to tell our stories of the Nakba of 1948. And today, because the Nakba never ended," Tlaib said, as quoted by Dawn, one of the organisers.

'The ongoing Nakba'

Earlier on Wednesday, Tlaib also introduced a piece of legislation that called on Congress to recognise "the ongoing Nakba and Palestinian refugees' rights".

The measure, first reported by The Intercept, calls on Congress to "condemn all manifestations of Israel’s ongoing Nakba against the Palestinian people", including ongoing displacement and home demolitions, and Israeli settler violence against Palestinians.

The legislation has received support from Betty McCollum, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman, and Cori Bush, who all supported a similar bill introduced by Tlaib last year.

Tlaib, a US lawmaker who is of Palestinian descent, has been one of the most outspoken American politicians on the rights of Palestinians, and has repeatedly called for US aid to Israel to be restricted.

In her first year of Congress, Israel barred the progressive lawmaker from visiting the occupied Palestinian territories. 

Her support for Palestinians and criticism of Israel has often drawn the ire of pro-Israel groups such as Aipac and the Anti-Defamation League, which had both tweeted out in support of McCarthy's attempt to prevent the event from taking place.

During last year's congressional elections, a pro-Israel political action committee attempted to spend one million dollars to unseat Tlaib but ultimately failed as the congresswoman easily won her race.

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