By Khaled Abu Toameh
Preparations are underway in Beit Ur al-Fauqa, 14 km. west of Ramallah, to welcome Palestinian-American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) when she visits her hometown, possibly at the end of next month.
Tlaib’s mother, Fatmeh, and grandmother, Um Issa, traveled to Jordan earlier this week to attend a wedding of a relative. The two women are expected to return to their village in the coming days to participate in preparations for the congresswoman’s visit. The Tlaib clan is one of three clans in Beit Ur al-Fauqa, home to some 1,000 people. The two other clans in the village are Samara and Zahran.
Members of the three clans told The Jerusalem Post that “everyone in the village” will come out to greet Rep. Tlaib during her visit. “We’re all proud of her,” said Ahmed Abdullah Tlaib, one of her uncles. “Of course, everyone here is excited that she’s coming to visit her village.”
He and other family members said Tlaib was originally scheduled to visit the village in mid-July. “We were first told that she will come to Palestine on July 17,” the uncle said. “Then we heard she had to postpone the visit because Israel didn’t give her permission to enter the country.”
Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer announced last week that “out of respect for the US Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel.”The main reception for Tlaib will be held in her clan’s hall at the entrance to the village, which is close to Route 443, the main road linking Jerusalem with Tel Aviv and Gush Dan via Modi’in.
“We will hold a big party for Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib,” said Muhammad Ibrahim, former head of the village council. “We are currently preparing a big sign welcoming her and her delegation.”
Ibrahim, who works as a schoolteacher after leaving his job as village head, said that the congresswoman and her colleagues won’t hold “political meetings” during their visit to the West Bank and Israel. “They are coming here to meet with ordinary people and learn about their suffering,” he said. “We were told that the delegation has no plans to meet with politicians.”
Ibrahim and members of the Tlaib clan said they did not know how long the congresswoman would stay in the village. “She will spend some time with her mother and grandmother, but we don’t know if she will stay overnight in the village,” Ibrahim added.
Mufid Tlaib, another relative of the congresswoman, was less enthusiastic about the upcoming visit. “We heard that she’s going to visit us and that’s good,” he said with a big smile. “But what can she do for us? She can’t do anything to help us. She will come and go, and nothing will change here.”
His friend Riad Zahran, who was sitting next to him outside a grocery shop opposite the village council building, joined the conversation, saying: “We’re all happy that the famous and successful woman from our village is coming to visit us. We are very proud of her, and she has brought lots of respect to her family, village and all Palestinians.”
Zahran said, however, that he shares his friend’s contention that Palestinians should not pin hopes on Tlaib’s planned visit. “The situation here is bad, and there’s nothing she or anyone else can do to change it,” he said.
Zahran and most villagers who spoke to the Post expressed outrage over US President Donald Trump’s recurring attacks on Tlaib and other Democratic congresswomen of color.
“This Trump is bad,” complained Abdel Rahman Tlaib, a distant relative of the congresswoman. “He must stop his racist attacks on Rashida and her friends. It seems Trump is against the whole world. Instead of wasting his time attacking our woman, he should do something to help the Palestinians. We hope he will stop, because many people are angry because of his racist statements.” – Jerusalem Post