Newman touts resolution recognizing displacement of Palestinians

Democratic U.S. Rep. Marie Newman of La Grange this week touted her cosponsorship of a House resolution formally recognizing the Nakba - the displacement of the Palestinian people after Israel's creation in 1948.

"I'm proud to stand with Palestinians ... as we call for your history to be recognized and respected," tweeted Newman, who now serves the 3rd District but is running in the 6th.

Newman's chief rival in the 6th District's Democratic primary, incumbent Sean Casten of Downers Grove, isn't among the resolution's co-sponsors. Casten, who has supported Palestinian human rights and called for the creation of a separate Palestinian state alongside Israel, hasn't yet reviewed the proposal, a spokeswoman said.

Nakba explained

An Arabic word, "Nakba" is often translated into English as "catastrophe." In this context, it refers to the destruction of the Palestinian homeland in 1948 after the end of British rule and to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs.

Many Palestinians and allies commemorate Nakba Day on May 15 - on the Gregorian calendar, the anniversary of the day after Israel declared its independence. May 15, 1948, also marked the start of the Arab-Israeli War, which began with an invasion of Israel by a coalition of Arab nations and ended the following year.

The resolution

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan introduced the Nakba resolution Monday.

Tlaib, who is Palestinian American, has been critical of Israel and was barred from entering the country in 2019 for supporting the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

Although Newman doesn't personally support the BDS movement, she has espoused the rights of Palestinians to boycott and pursue other peaceful protests.

Tlaib's resolution calls for the U.S. to "encourage education and public understanding" of the Nakba. The proposal has six co-sponsors, including Newman and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, another prominent Israel critic. All the co-sponsors are Democrats.

The resolution has been referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

While groups including Amnesty International call Israel an apartheid state because of its policies and treatment of Palestinian people, the U.S. State Department has rebuked the label. So has the Anti-Defamation League, which calls the allegation "inaccurate (and) offensive."

In her tweet, Newman said she was "honored" to co-sponsor Tlaib's resolution.

"We cannot understand the current conflict without acknowledging the tragedy of the Nakba," wrote Newman, who has served the 3rd District since 2020 but is challenging Casten following a significant redrawing of Illinois' congressional districts.

Newman noted the 3rd District is home to one of America's largest Palestinian communities.

"I have a fundamental obligation to ensure their voices are heard within the halls of Congress, which is exactly what Rep. Tlaib's resolution does," she said.

Newman also supports Israel's right to peacefully exist.

Casten's response

In an email, Casten said he is "fully committed to ensuring that Israel's future as a democratic state and homeland for the Jewish people is secure and that Palestinians' human rights are protected."

Casten also supported establishing an independent Palestine next to Israel, a concept called the two-state solution.

Newman has backed that solution, too, specifying that Israel withdraw to the borders it had before the Six-Day War in June 1967 and Israel's occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and other territory.

Diplomatic efforts to establish two states have failed.

The newly redrawn 6th District includes much of the West and Southwest suburbs in Cook and DuPage counties.

Also seeking the Democratic nomination is Charles Hughes of Chicago.

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