Rashida Tlaib to Wear Palestinian Gown While Being Sworn Into Congress

Representative-elect Tlaib, who is Palestinian-American, posted a photo of the traditional garment on Instagram

Rashida Tlaib reacts after appearing at her midterm election night party in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. November 6, 2018.
\ REBECCA COOK/ REUTERS

Democratic Representative-elect Rashida Tlaib said she plans to wear a traditional Palestinian garment to her swearing-in ceremony next month.

"Sneak peek: This is what I am wearing when I am sworn into Congress. #PalestinianThobe #ForMyYama," Tlaib, who is Palestinian-American, wrote in an Instagram post on Friday. A thobe, or thawb, is a traditional ankle-length garment worn throughout the Arab world and some countries in East and West Africa, while "yama" is Arabic for mother.

The embroidery on Palestinian dresses varies per city, village or region and is a way for the wearer to show pride in one's origins. Tlaib's mother is from Beit Ur al-Fauqa, outside Ramallah, and her father from Beit Hanina, an East Jerusalem neighborhood. 

Tlaib made history in November, when her victory in Michigan's 13th Congressional District made her the first female Muslim to be elected to the House of Representatives. She was followed shortly later by fellow Democrat Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who won the seat formerly occupied by Keith Ellison.

Tlaib has made headlines regarding her position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on several occasions. Before winning her primary in August, her campaign represented her as supporting a two-state solution and aid to Israel. But since her victory, she has explicitly endorsed a one-state solution and called for an end to aid to Israel, prompting the pro-two-state-solution lobby group J Street to officially withdraw its support for her.

Earlier this month, Tlaib told The Intercept that she plans to lead a delegation of lawmakers to the West Bank. Tlaib said the delegation's goal is "to humanize Palestinians, provide an alternative perspective to the one [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee] pushes, and highlight the inherent inequality of Israel’s system of military occupation in Palestinian territories, which Tlaib likens to what African-Americans in the United States endured in the Jim Crow era.