Rashida Tlaib and The Squad wear keffiyehs, hold ceasefire signs during Biden's State of the Union speech

Rashida Tlaib and The Squad wear keffiyehs, hold ceasefire signs during Biden's State of the Union speech
Rashida Tlaib, Summer Lee and Cori Bush held pro-Palestinian signs throughout Joe Biden's State of the Union speech on Thursday.
3 min read
09 March, 2024
Rashida Tlaib is Congress' only Palestinian American member and a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause [Getty/file photo]

Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib, among other members of the "progressive wing" of the Democratic Party known as 'The Squad', wore Palestinian keffiyehs and held signs that read "lasting ceasefire now" and "stop sending bombs" during President Joe Biden’s State of Union speech on Thursday.

Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American Muslim woman to be elected to the US Congress, took part in the protest alongside fellow members of the US House of Representatives Summer Lee and Cori Bush. 

The congresswomen withheld their applause for Biden as he delivered his speech, despite the US President's apparent criticisms directed at Israel, who has indiscriminately waged a deadly war in the Gaza Strip, killing 30,878 Palestinians as of Friday.

Tlaib kept the signs up during this whole section of the speech, and didn't stand up to show support when Biden called for a two-state solution. 

In his speech, Biden said Israel cannot use aid as a "bargaining chip" as he issued a call for an immediate but temporary ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, where humanitarian conditions are dire.

"To the leadership of Israel I say this: Humanitarian assistance cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip," he said. "Protecting and saving innocent lives has to be a priority. As we look to the future, the only real solution to this situation is a two-state solution."

Biden also said the war has taken a greater toll on innocent civilians than all previous wars in Gaza combined. "More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed, most of whom are not Hamas," he said. 

Biden had previously expressed doubt over the death toll in Gaza at the beginning of Israel’s war, questioning the figures provided by the enclave's health ministry.

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Additionally, Tlaib, Bush and Lee declined to join several "four more years" chants in protest against Biden, who is hoping to be elected for a second term as US President.

The Democratic Congresswomen’s rejection of support for Biden can be interpreted as a rejection of Biden’s candidacy following his ardent support for Israel despite the increasing death toll and the number of war crimes committed in the Palestinian enclave, with Washington providing millions of dollars in military support.

The three representatives’ demands include a permanent ceasefire, rather than a temporary six-week-long one, the resumption of US funds for the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) and the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israel, many of whom are held without trial under administrative detention.

Ilhan Omar, another representative and member of 'The Squad', was also seen declining to chant and holding a sign which read "stop the bombs".

Tlaib has been vocal with her criticism of Israel's military campaign in Gaza, as well as US complicity in the war. The Congresswoman has been the victim of attacks from both sides of the political spectrum as a result, particularly for using the slogan "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free".