Resolution purports to protect right to boycott, but clearly is meant to protect boycott movement against Israel, which the resolution justifies by referencing the boycott of the Nazis. Zeldin was not having any of it.
When it comes to the well-documented anti-Semitism of Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) has been unafraid to push back against their actions and question their claims.
For instance, Zeldin, who is Jewish, gave a blistering floor speech in March in which he slammed the sham “anti-hate” resolution passed by House Democrats in response to repeated instances involving Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes. He said, in part:
That member [Omar] in January had to apologize for talking about a ‘hypnosis’ of Israel ‘that they have over the entire world.’
That member had to apologize in February by saying if you support Israel it must be because you’re bought off by Jews.
That member called it an “unequivocal apology” even though she filled it with equivocation.
And now we’re back again, this time by saying that if you support the U.S.-Israel relationship that you must have pledged your allegiance to a foreign government. Except this time that member is refusing to apologize.
Even if you gave that member every benefit of the doubt that she had no idea what she was doing, why now wouldn’t she be apologizing, why would she be more emboldened to refuse an apology altogether?
Just a couple of months later, Zeldin called out anti-Semitic comments made by Tlaib and the House leadership’s disturbing indifference to them:
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) blasted Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for coming out in defense of Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s (D-Mich.) comments on the Holocaust and Israel, alleging the California Democrat “is making a selfish play call for her gavel” instead of standing up to members of her party.
Tlaib drew backlash after an interview she gave to Yahoo News’s “Skullduggery” podcast over the weekend, in which she said she gets “a calming feeling” when thinking about her Palestinian ancestors’ role in “trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post-the Holocaust.”
“This is what the House Democrats would call ‘Friday,’ would be Rashida Tlaib giving that interview. What the Democrats call ‘Thursday’ is having an imam come to give the opening prayer who compares the Israelis to the Nazis and calls the Israelis a terrorist regime and called for a third Palestinian intifada and posted supportive comments on social media posts in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said.
In early June, Zeldin took a more measured response after Omar posted on Twitter that she agreed with anti-Semitic activist Linda Sarsour’s characterization of Zeldin as “an anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian bigot who called Obama a racist and [who] campaigns with neo-Nazis and white supremacists.” Omar confirmed her support of Sarsour just hours after joining the newly-formed Black-Jewish Congressional Caucus, of which Zeldin is a co-chair and founder.
Instead of pointing out that Omar had just demonstrated that her goal was to undermine the very bipartisan group she just joined, Zeldin instead suggested that she “be better”:
This new Caucus is a positive, bipartisan push to build bridges between 2 groups. Be helpful, accurate & better. Unite; don’t divide or try to poison like this latest personal attack. This is bigger than us & we have to be better than this. https://t.co/1Ai7jzScKp
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) June 6, 2019
Predictably, Omar’s swipe at Zeldin and embrace of Sarsour as a legitimate voice in the debate would set the tone for what was to come earlier this week when the freshman Congresswoman introduced a pro-BDS resolution on Tuesday:
Yesterday, in a rather stunning feat of what looks like malicious trolling, Representative Ilhan Omar co-sponsored a resolution designed to support the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against the state of Israel. The resolution itself is clever. It doesn’t mention Israel, and is crafted as an ode to free speech. Its key operative provision merely “affirms that all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad, as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.”
Well, yes. Free expression is free expression. Individual anti-Semites have just as much a constitutional right to boycott Israeli products as individual racists have a constitutional right to refuse to patronize black-owned businesses. The fact that the Constitution protects such conduct doesn’t render it any less repugnant, and lest you doubt the underlying intention of Omar’s actions, she made it very clear in an interview with Al-Monitor that the resolution was an “opportunity for us to explain why it is we support a nonviolent movement, which is the BDS movement.”
Omar is the lead sponsor of the resolution. It currently has 6 co-sponsors: Rep. Tlaib and fellow Democratic Reps. John Lewis (GA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ), Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ), Bobby Rush (IL), and Danny Davis (IL)
The resolution reads, in part:
Whereas boycotts have been effectively used in the United States by advocates for equal rights since the Boston Tea Party and include boycotts led by civil rights activists during the 1950s and 1960s in order to advocate for racial equality, such as the Montgomery bus boycott, and promote workers’ rights, such as the United Farm Workers-led boycott of table grapes;
Whereas Americans of conscience have a proud history of participating in boycotts to advocate for human rights abroad, including—
(1) attempting to slow Japanese aggression in the Pacific by boycotting Imperial Japan in 1937 and 1938;
(2) boycotting Nazi Germany from March 1933 to October 1941 in response to the dehumanization of the Jewish people in the lead-up to the Holocaust;
(3) the United States Olympic Committee boycotting the 1980 summer Olympics in Moscow in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the preceding year; and
(4) leading the campaign in the 1980s to boycott South African goods in opposition to apartheid in that country;
One wonders: Is Omar aware that by falsely equating the BDS movement to the boycotts of Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s that she is again engaged in anti-Semitism as defined by the State Dept.? If she does know, clearly she doesn’t care.
Omar also gave a speech on the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday reiterating some of the language used in the resolution:
“We should condemn in the strongest terms violence that perpetuates the occupation whether it is perpetuated either by Israel, Hamas, or individuals,” Omar stated. “But if we are going to condemn violent means of resisting the occupation, we cannot also condemn non-violent means. We cannot simultaneously say we want peace then openly oppose peaceful means to hold our allies accountable.”
“[H.R. 496] recognizes the proud history of boycott movements in this country dating back to the Boston Tea Party. We should honor these movements and that history,” she continued.
Watch video of her remarks below:
Rep. Ilhan Omar defends the anti-Semitic BDS movement, compares it to the Boston Tea Party. pic.twitter.com/O5wvhxuJlM
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) July 17, 2019
Zeldin responded to Omar’s remarks by giving an impassioned defense of his opposition to the BDS movement, noting that it refused to distance itself from the terrorist group Hamas, which advocates for the extermination of all Jews:
“My colleague who just spoke used the frequent use of the words ‘honestly’ and ‘honest.’ Let’s just get to a lot of what is left out,” the 39-year-old New York Republican said Wednesday, referring to Omar, who had just given a speech during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing supporting a resolution promoting the BDS movement. “The BDS movment has not distanced itself from Hamas, a designated foreign terrorist organization. BDS supporters individually are not distancing themselves from Hamas either.”
The Jewish representative then went on to explain that a senior Hamas official has called for the death of all Jews last week.
Zeldin continued to criticize the resolution after the hearing in a statement: “[T]here are Members of this House who continue to prop up the BDS movement and blame Israel for all of its challenges. Israel is our best ally in the Middle East; a beacon of hope, freedom and liberty surrounded by existential threats. Shame on Rep. Omar for bringing her hateful twist of this reality today to the committee and this chamber.”
Watch Zeldin’s full speech below:
Israel is our best ally in the Mid East; a beacon of hope, freedom & liberty, surrounded by existential threats. Shame on Rep @Ilhan Omar for bringing her hateful twist on that reality to House Foreign today, propping up the BDS movement & blaming Israel for all of its challenges pic.twitter.com/y975D0JCaC
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) July 17, 2019
On his Twitter feed Thursday, Zeldin continued to express his opposition to Omar’s pro-BDS resolution, and also again called for her to be removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, of which Jewish Democrat Eliot Engel (NY) is chair:
This new pro BDS reso by Omar has the nerve to claim moral equivalency between boycotting Nazi Germany & boycotting Israel. Disgraceful! I’m a hard NO on this reso, her past anti-Semitism, hate towards Israel & blame America 1st agenda! Again=>she should NOT be on @HouseForeign!
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) July 19, 2019
Ironically, on the same day Omar compared the BDS movement to the Boston Tea Party and the boycotts of Nazi Germany, the very committee she presented her case to passed a resolution rejecting the BDS movement. The resolution currently has 344 co-sponsors. It’s unclear if it will be presented to the full House for consideration.
Omar also announced this week that she will be visiting Israel sometime in August along with Tlaib. Israel has a law barring BDS supporters from entering the country. But their Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said this week the two freshmen Congresswomen will not be denied entry.
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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