For many in Palestine, the news of the victory by Rashida Tlaib was met with celebration. Tlaib is the first Muslim woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress, but her immigrate story also inspires those throughout Palestine. She celebrated her victory on Wednesday night. Her extended family lives in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and many neighbors and friends gathered near the family’s home to congratulate them on her win.
Historic election results
“This makes us proud – as the Tlaib family, resident of Beit Ur, as Palestinians, as Arabs, and as Muslims, that a simple girl reaches such a position,” said her uncle, Bassam Tlaib. Her family indicated that she had last visited their village in 2006.
The elected Congresswoman is the oldest of 14 children and born to a family of Palestinian immigrants. Her father worked for the Ford Motor Company in Detroit. Tlaib was also the first woman elected to the Michigan state legislature from 2008-2014.
There was no Republican candidate to run against Tlaib, so she will be the Democratic candidate and is poised to officially win the seat after the recent Democratic primary nomination for the 13th District. This congressional district is home to one of the largest Muslim and Arab-American populations in the U.S.
Religion was a present, but invisible part of the election.
“It’s not about just being out there and flaunting your faith,” said Tlaib. “I always tell people that I’m exposing Islam in such a pivotal way, an impactful way, through public service.”
She worked her way up with over a decade in political experience.
“It’s a lesson I wish our broader American Muslim community would learn, because any folks get frustrated that we don’t have representation at the highest levels of politics and government, when we rarely put in the effort to start at the ground floor and work our way up,” said Zaki Barzinji, the former White House liaison to American Muslims under the Obama administration.
Source of pride for West Bank
For many Palestinians, this election result is a source of pride, as an immigrant from their country attains a position within the U.S. government. The U.S. policy is one that tends to ally with Israel, which negatively impacts the Palestine.
The West Bank is occupied by Israel and was captured as part of the 1967 Middle East war. The Western-backed Palestinian Authority limited self-rule in the territory. It is home to around 3 million stateless Palestinians. Israel maintains a military presence in the territory. There are also checkpoints throughout the major roads in order to protect the 400,000 Jewish settlers living in the West Bank.