Biden praises Rashida Tlaib for Palestinian advocacy as calls for ceasefire grow louder

Dearborn, Michigan - During a Tuesday speech at the Ford plant in Dearborn, Michigan, President Joe Biden expressed his admiration and gratitude to Palestinian-American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, a vocal advocate for Palestinian rights.

Rashida Tlaib speaks at a rally for Palestinian lives during Joe Biden's visit to Dearborn, Michigan.
Rashida Tlaib speaks at a rally for Palestinian lives during Joe Biden's visit to Dearborn, Michigan.  © Collage: IMAGO / UPI Photo, IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

"I admire your intellect, I admire your passion, and I admire your concern for so many other people. And it’s from my heart I pray that your grandmom and family are well. I promise you I’m going to do everything to see that they are, in the West Bank," Biden said of Tlaib during his speech in Dearborn, which has one of the largest Arab-American populations in the country.

He concluded with more words of praise: "You’re a fighter. And God thank you for being a fighter."

Biden's comments came as the death toll for Palestinians in Gaza rose to more than 200. Earlier that same day, Rep. Tlaib spoke with Biden on the tarmac after he landed in her home state of Michigan.

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An aide summarized Tlaib's message for the president to The Hill: "Palestinian human rights are not a bargaining chip and must be protected, not negotiated. The US cannot continue to give the right-wing Netanyahu government billions each year to commit crimes against Palestinians. Atrocities like bombing schools cannot be tolerated, much less conducted with US-supplied weapons."

"Congresswoman Tlaib reiterated that the status quo is enabling more killing, that the current U.S. approach of unconditional support for the Israeli government is not working, and that the White House must do far more to protect Palestinian lives, dignity, and human rights," the aide continued.

Progressive lawmakers are increasingly demanding the Biden administration cut funding for Israel's military operations. Some Democrats have issued calls for an immediate ceasefire in the region, and several have introduced a resolution to block a $735-million arms sale to Israel.

Biden called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas militias, and reports on Thursday indicated that hostilities might be winding down. Publicly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected any calls for deescalation.

Biden's comments jarred with jokes he made the same day

The president's address to Tlaib was followed by a more jarring moment later in the day. While test-driving an electric truck in Dearborn, Biden joked about running over any journalists who asked him about Israel-Palestine.

When one reporter requested to ask a quick question on Israel, Biden responded, "No you can't. Not unless you get in front of the car as I step on it. I'm only teasing," before driving away.

Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO / UPI Photo, IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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