Palestinian-American Democrat: I Will 'Humanize' the Palestinian People in the U.S. Congress

'I’m going to be a voice for them,' Rashida Tlaib told the Huffington Post while blasting the “walls and fences” that separate Palestinians and Israelis, 'two people who have so much more in common'

Rashida Tlaib in front of the Michigan Capitol building in 2008.
Al Goldis / AP

Sharing smiles and hugs, the extended family of Rashida Tlaib, who is set to become the first Muslim woman to join the U.S. Congress, celebrated her election victory last Wednesday in the courtyard of their West Bank house.

Tlaib spoke to the Huffington Post after her victory, Tlaib saying she just wanted “people like me to have a seat at the table.”

“When you think about these stories, someone that didn’t speak English when they started school, parents with no high school diploma now able to witness their daughter to become a member of Congress, it’s a pretty spectacular American story,” she continued.

“I’m going to be a voice for them,” Tlaib added while blasting the “walls and fences” that separate Palestinians and Israelis, “two people who have so much more in common.”

“I look forward to being able to humanize so many of them that have felt ‘less than’ for so long,” she added.

Tlaib's grandmother, aunts and uncles welcomed neighbors in the village of Beit Ur al-Fauqa in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, who gathered near their single-story stone house beside a grove of olive trees to congratulate them on the historic win.

"This makes us proud - as the Tlaib family, residents of Beit Ur, as Palestinians, as Arabs and as Muslims, that a simple girl reaches such a position," said her uncle, Bassam Tlaib.

Tlaib's family said the soon-to-be Congresswoman held her wedding in Beit Ur al-Fauqa in 1997 and last visited the village in 2006.

The oldest of 14 children born to a family of Palestinian immigrants, Tlaib is a Detroit native. Her father worked at a Ford Motor Company plant in the city, home of the U.S. car industry, and she became the first Muslim woman elected to the state legislature.

On Tuesday she won her district's Democratic nomination for Michigan's 13th Congressional district, encompassing parts of Detroit and surrounding suburbs and home to one of the largest Muslim and Arab-American populations in the United States.

Since no one ran in the Republican primary, Tlaib is poised to win the seat.

The West Bank is occupied by Israel which captured it in a 1967 Middle East war. The Western-backed Palestinian Authority has limited self-rule in the territory which is home to around 3 million stateless Palestinians. Israel maintains a military presence with checkpoints on major roads to protect 400,000 Jewish settlers.