Tlaib: “So I can’t stand by and watch this attack on our freedom of speech and the right to boycott the racist policies of the government and the state of Israel.”
The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives condemned the Global, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS) with a vote of 398-17 even though Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib campaigned against the measure.
Five members voted present while 16 Democrats opposed the bill. Republican Rep. Thomas Massie was the only Republican to vote against it.
The vote had the potential to expose an ideological divide within the caucus, pitting progressives against moderates even after Democrats united against President Donald Trump’s racist tweets against four minority congresswomen.
“BDS doesn’t seek social justice. It seeks a world in which the state of Israel does not exist,” Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) said on the floor Tuesday.
“There is a chance for Congress to stand up and to point out that supporting a movement that doesn’t envision a two-state solution and that seeks to delegitimize the state of Israel is nothing that will advance peace and should be called out for what it is,” Deutch said in an interview later.
Omar, who has a history of anti-Semitic comments, voiced objection against the measure because the government should not “condemn nonviolent” boycotts.
Omar introduced legislation that affirms “all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights.” It does not specifically mention the BDS movement.
Tlaib provided a more blunt objection to the resolution:
Two weeks ago, Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress, took to Twitter to denounce the resolution saying it silences “the opposition to Israel’s blatantly racist policies that demonize both Palestinians and Ethiopians.”
“I stand before you the daughter of Palestenian immigrants,” Tlaib said on the House floor the morning of the vote. “Parents who experienced being stripped of their human rights, the right to freedom of travel, equal treatment. So I can’t stand by and watch this attack on our freedom of speech and the right to boycott the racist policies of the government and the state of Israel. I love our country’s freedom of speech, Madam Speaker. Dissent is how we nurture democracy.”
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