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Ilhan Omar has introduced a resolution affirming that Americans have the right to boycott Israel

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Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar has introduced a bill affirming that Americans have the right to participate in boycotts. Although the legislation doesn’t specifically mention the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), it coincides with an anti-BDS resolution that is currently being pushed by many Democrats.

House Resolution 496 (HRes496) asserts that 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.” It also identifies historical moments when Americans participated in boycotts to push human rights in other countries: the boycotting of Imperial Japan during the late 1930s, the boycotting of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1941, the boycotting of the 1980 summer Olympics in Moscow, and the boycotting of South Africa. The text of the bill also takes aim at legislative efforts to prohibit boycotts urging, “Congress, States, and civil rights leaders from all communities to endeavor to preserve the freedom of advocacy for all by opposing anti-boycott resolutions and legislation.”

Omar’s bill currently has two cosponsors: Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). Interestingly Lewis is also a cosponsor of House Resolution 246 (HRes246), the aforementioned anti-BDS bill that was scheduled for a congressional mark up this week. While Democratic supporters of HRes246 claim that resolution doesn’t impede on First Amendment protections, its critics believe that it will be used by pro-Israel lawmakers as a means to push much more aggressive anti-BDS legislation. Tlaib has blasted HRes246 as “unconstitutional.”

On the same day that Omar introduced the legislation she told the website Al-Monitor, ““We are introducing a resolution … to really speak about the American values that support and believe in our ability to exercise our first amendment rights in regard to boycotting. And it is an opportunity for us to explain why it is we support a nonviolent movement, which is the BDS movement.”

Hind Awwad, a steering committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), put out a statement on behalf of the BDS campaign regarding the resolution:

This groundbreaking resolution will inspire human rights defenders everywhere including BDS activists for Palestinian rights. It affirms the right of all activists and people of conscience to advocate for human rights through boycotts against systems of oppression. It reassures us that progressives, including in Congress, are defending freedom of expression and the rights of oppressed communities, including Palestinians to peacefully fight for their rights. The defense of those rights is more vital in light of the rise of far-right racism and white supremacy, including Israel’s decades-old apartheid regime.

Omar’s bill was also introduced on the same day that the House passed a resolution condemning President Trump for a racist Twitter tirade, in which he told Omar, Tlaib, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) to “go back” to their home countries. All of these women were born in the United States besides Omar.

Michael Arria

Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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19 Responses

  1. eljay on July 17, 2019, 2:47 pm

    I applaud Ms. Omar for speaking yet another simple truth.

    I condemn the (pro-)Zionists who will vilify and attempt to destroy her for speaking this truth as they have done for the other truths she has spoken.

    • JWalters on July 17, 2019, 6:36 pm

      I second that! Thank you Representative Omar. The sneaky Zionist attack on the US Constitution and Americans’ freedom of speech, by trying to outlaw Americans’ criticism of Israel, needs just this sort of direct defense. This bill will also show starkly which members of Congress are willing to sell out their constituents’ freedom of speech for Israeli money. The names of those Vichy members will live in infamy.

  2. CigarGod on July 17, 2019, 11:25 pm

    How many standing ovations did our entire congress of 535 members give bibi when he came to town?
    They jumped to their feet like trained circus animals at least 25 times.

  3. echinococcus on July 18, 2019, 12:31 am

    Brilliant and heroic lady.
    Wrong party affiliation, though. When push comes to shove, she’ll be under the steamroller. Let’s hope the Democrat beasts who own the Single Party need her a bit longer as a “left” window dressing.

    • CigarGod on July 18, 2019, 8:58 am

      Do you think she’d have the same impact as a Green?

      • echinococcus on July 19, 2019, 6:41 am

        Cigar God,

        If Ms Omar were with any “third” party, her proposal would be supported and pushed by said party, who would also organize outside support for it, and the thing could get heard outside the three-blind-mice-circle of WM readers and such. If people like you kept voting against the Demopublicanorepucrats, there would be third parties in both Houses (among which one supporting, not repressing and turning down Ms Omar’s proposal) and the Zionist single-party rule could begin to be fought against*.

        This comedy of never starting …because one hasn’t started yet has been played continually and continues to be fed by so-called liberals to the endless satisfaction of the Empire.

        (*provided, of course, that the Empire would not openly implement bare-knuckled fascist rule)

  4. Misterioso on July 18, 2019, 10:23 am

    @echinococcus

    Ilhan Omar, et al, are planting the seeds of the tree of truth within the minds of Americans, especially youth. It will take time, but as the Zionists are now realizing, the tree will grow, and grow and grow.

    • Sibiriak on July 19, 2019, 2:43 pm

      … planting the seeds of the tree of truth within the minds of Americans:

      In response to Trump’s comments, Omar claimed Monday that “this president has been credibly accused of committing multiple crimes, including colluding with a foreign government to interfere with our election.”

      • Keith on July 19, 2019, 4:48 pm

        SIBIRIAK- (Quote)- “In response to Trump’s comments, Omar claimed Monday that “this president has been credibly accused of committing multiple crimes, including colluding with a foreign government to interfere with our election.”

        How disappointing. How predictable? I am at the stage where, as much as I loath Trump and the Republicans, I hope that Russiagate sinks these war mongering Democrats. A quote from Ray McGovern:

        “Perhaps the most damning of the two came last Monday, when it was disclosed that, on July 1, Judge Dabney Friedrich ordered Mueller to stop pretending he had proof that the Russian government was behind the Internet Research Agency’s supposed attempt to interfere via social media in the 2016 election. While the corporate media so far has largely ignored Judge Friedrich’s order, it may well have been enough to cause very cold feet for those attached to the strained Facebook fable. (The IRA social-media “interference” has always been ludicrous on its face, as journalist Gareth Porter established.)” (Ray McGovern) http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/51926.htm

  5. hophmi on July 18, 2019, 10:58 am

    I don’t see the word Israel in there. I also haven’t seen anyone propose that Americans do not have a right to boycott. I’ve seen legislation that would restrict states from contracting with entities that boycott Israel, but no, not a single piece of legislation restricting Americans from boycotting whatever they want to boycott.

    • bcg on July 18, 2019, 12:50 pm

      @hophmi: ” I’ve seen legislation that would restrict states from contracting with entities that boycott Israel.”

      That’s called “legislation that restricts Americans from boycotting whatever they want to boycott”.

      • hophmi on July 18, 2019, 1:34 pm

        Are corporations people? Sounds like you believe that.

      • LiberatePalestine on July 18, 2019, 6:03 pm

        In the US, Canada, and many other countries, corporations legally count as «persons».

    • Talkback on July 18, 2019, 8:29 pm

      Hophmi: “I’ve seen legislation that would restrict states from contracting with entities that boycott Israel.”

      That’s actually a good thing. It prevents companies from becoming complicit with Israel’s genocide against the Palestinians.

      The Genocide of the Palestinian People: An International Law and Human Rights Perspective | Center for Constitutional Rights
      https://ccrjustice.org/genocide-palestinian-people-international-law-and-human-rights-perspective

    • Tonja on July 19, 2019, 3:41 am

      Then you need to open your eyes hophmi.
      https://theintercept.com/2018/12/17/israel-texas-anti-bds-law/

      In the section 2270.001 of Texas Goverment Code i read “Israel ” 6 times.

      And to help a for a poor blind zionist it even gives the definition of “contractor” who can be individual..

      zionist are pathological liars….

  6. hophmi on July 18, 2019, 11:12 am

    HRes 246 does nothing other than indicate opposition to the BDS movement. It’s not unconstitutional for Congress to give their opinion, Tlaib’s peculiar interpretation of the Constitution notwithstanding.

  7. Blaine Coleman on July 19, 2019, 8:37 am

    Now the Ann Arbor City Council — and its Human Rights Commission — are embroiled in a public debate over a resolution urging a cutoff of military aid to Israel. Two articles on this during just the last week:

    https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2019/07/tensions-high-as-ann-arbor-considers-israel-palestine-issue.html

    and

    https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2019/07/anti-israel-protestors-convince-ann-arbor-to-take-up-issue.html

  8. genesto on July 19, 2019, 1:01 pm

    Just LOVE Ihan! She exposes people like K. Harris and C. Booker for the phony political opportunists and panderers that they are. She’s also helping to put establishment mainstays, like the Democratic leadership and the CBC, on notice that it’s time to stop attacking true progressives like her and the other members of the Squad.

    She is a generational hero, and we should all acknowledge this woman for her, and her compatriots, humanity and bravery.

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