Cheryl Levi

What Rashida Tlaib knows, or how to win when you’re losing

The US rep didn't bother trying to convince Congress that Hamas casualty stats are accurate. She gets the power of drama
Illustrative: Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) in an exchange with witnesses during a roundtable discussion on Supreme Court Ethics conducted by Democrats of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee at the Rayburn House Office Building. June 11, 2024, Washington, DC.   (Getty Images via AFP)
Illustrative: Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) in an exchange with witnesses during a roundtable discussion on Supreme Court Ethics conducted by Democrats of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee at the Rayburn House Office Building. June 11, 2024, Washington, DC. (Getty Images via AFP)

Americans have always craved drama. Pro-Palestinian politicians know this, and they use it to their advantage. Pro-Israel politicians haven’t grasped the concept yet. Case in point:

It started with the formal process of introducing an amendment to the State Department’s Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act of 2025. Amendment number 45 was presented by Jared Moskowitz of Florida who opened up the discussion with his bi-partisan proposal: “limiting the use of unverified statistics from the Gaza Ministry of Health.” Immediately after stating the proposal, he reserved the balance of his time. The opposing side was represented by Barbara Lee of California who argued that those statistics were the “only information available” and therefore the Gaza Ministry of Health was “the de facto authority” on the topic. She said that the UN, other (unnamed) international authorities, and the Palestinian Authority agreed that “this ministry has made a good faith effort to account for the dead.” For the State Department to work effectively “it needs real-time information.”

Lee’s arguments contained many flaws, and some of them were pointed out by Moskowitz. When called upon, he calmly clarified that his proposed amendment did not deny the “tragedy that is going on in Gaza due to Hamas’ horrific attack on Israel on October 7th.” He explained that the Gaza Ministry of Health is Hamas and that the United States cannot rely on the statistics of a terrorist organization. He said there are other possible sources of information such as other international authorities or the United Nations. He reminded the Congress that the UN, who once relied on Hamas’ numbers, significantly lowered their own estimated numbers a few weeks ago, by the thousands. He emphasized that the goal of Hamas was to “sell propaganda to the world.” The US cannot and should not partake in their plan.

The debate was very organized, professional…and boring to an American audience. Moskowitz yielded the rest of his time, and that, unfortunately, was when the real drama began. Lee got up, requested time to speak, and yielded her time to the gentlewoman of Michigan, Rashida Tlaib. One thing Tlaib knows how to do is play to the camera.

Tlaib began by calling it “unconscionable” that her colleagues in the House were proposing an amendment against citing the Palestinian death toll. She went on to accuse the House of Representatives of a “coordinated effort to dehumanize Palestinians and erase them from existence” since 1948. She said that the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians has been taking place since 1948, and the Israeli apartheid government is prosecuting that mission in “real-time.” She claimed that the amendment proposed by Moskowitz was an attempt to hide the genocide going on in Israel. She went on to read the latest casualty numbers from Gaza: 37,718 Palestinians, including more than 15,000 Palestinian children. Six children are killed every hour, she said, and these are innocent babies and children who are being bombed, burned alive, dismembered, and deliberately starved to death.

She further asked “Where is our shared humanity in this chamber? There is so much anti-Palestinian racism in this chamber that my colleagues don’t even want to acknowledge that Palestinians exist at all. Not when they are alive and now not even when they are dead!” By this point, Tlaib’s voice began to quiver with anger and frustration. “It’s absolutely disgusting! This is genocide denial!” She continued to explain that she knows most people in the chamber don’t believe Palestinians should live, but as the only Palestinian representative, she can’t remain silent. Then she lifted a large booklet to submit to Congress. She claimed that it was a list of names of people who died in Gaza. But she went on to explain that she couldn’t submit the list because the list was too long, and it was against congressional rules. “That’s how many have been killed!” She screamed as she dramatically threw the booklet to the table. She ended by begging, “Please don’t erase them…They are dead. What more do you want from people in Palestine?”

The chair of the meeting was unaffected. (Could he have heard one too many of Tlaib’s outbursts?) He coldly went on to Amendment number 47 without recognizing the drama that had just occurred, and Amendment 45 was eventually passed in a bipartisan vote of 269-144. I am not convinced, however, that Tlaib even cared whether it passed or not. She put on a great performance, and it was all about the performance, right? Her speech was replete with bald-faced lies and exaggerations. It didn’t even address the amendment at hand. But it was performed artfully.

The lies started from the very beginning of the speech where Tlaib baselessly and neurotically accused Congress of wanting to erase the Palestinians from existence since 1948. Clearly, the claim ignored the billions of dollars in aid the House has allotted to Gazans over the years. It also ignored the millions of dollars that went into the pier the United States constructed in order to provide aid to Gazans during the war. Her accusation was astonishing as the United States is certainly not behaving like it wants to destroy all Palestinians. And speaking of the obvious, the claim that Israel has been ethnically cleansing the Palestinians since 1948 was just as ludicrous. If that was the intent of Israel, it has been doing a terrible job. The Palestinian population has grown exponentially since 1948. You would think that as victims of genocide themselves, the Jews in Israel would have done a better job.

Her claim that this amendment was simply an attempt to hide the crimes that the US and Israel has been perpetuating since 1948 is equally extraordinary and frankly a complete misunderstanding of the amendment. The amendment was proposed in order to cease the misinformation that Hamas is putting out. Tlaib had chosen to present this amendment through her own warped spectacles. Everything that occurs, and everything that comes out of the mouths of Americans (and especially Jews) is an attack on Palestinians in Tlaib’s eyes. She couldn’t really address the amendment head-on because she didn’t even understand the amendment. I’m not really sure what that says about her as a congresswoman.

The statistics she laid out were Hamas statistics, which were exactly what the amendment was referring to. They are statistically improbable, as has been pointed out by a multitude of statisticians. They don’t distinguish between civilians and terrorists. They certainly can’t determine whether a death has been caused by Israel or a misfired Hamas rocket. These fabricated irrelevant statistics are utterly useless. What was the point of utilizing these statistics in an argument over the notion that the US should not be using those very same statistics? Unless there were cameras rolling, of course.

Her book of names was a nice dramatic touch, particularly when she threw it down on the desk in front of her. So was the ending of her speech when she asked what more we wanted from the Palestinians. But I can tell her what more I want from the Palestinians. I want them to refuse to hide our innocent kidnapped victims in their apartments. I want them to stop physically and emotionally abusing them. I want them to help our soldiers who are trying to rid them of the terrorist regime that has been stealing billions of dollars in aid from them. And I want them to stop lying to the media.

But I think Tlaib’s low point came when she described Palestinian children being burned alive and dismembered. Using images from October 7th to describe the Palestinians’ situation was despicable. But I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Americans love drama. She knows that. So, she gave it to them.

Moskowitz might have gotten his bill passed that day, but Tlaib put on a better show.

About the Author
Cheryl Levi is a writer and a high school English teacher who lives with her family in Bet Shemesh, Israel. She has a master's degree in medieval Jewish philosophy and has written numerous articles about faith crisis in Judaism. Her book, Reasonable Doubts, was published in 2010.