Progressive Reps defend anti-BDS vote: Khanna cites Lincoln, Pressley ‘solidarity with Jewish families’

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

On July 23, the House overwhelmingly passed H.Res. 246, which condemns the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Sixteen Democrats voted against the resolution, but a number of notable progressives backed the measure, including Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA).  The day after the vote they both faced criticism for their vote on Twitter.

“[Y]ou received praise today from Netanyahu and are shielding his far-right gov from rising criticism,” the young Jewish group IfNotNow wrote to Khanna. “As Jewish progressives, we are very disappointed in you & @AyannaPressley’s vote yesterday.”

Pressley wasn’t a cosponsor of the bill, but she surprised many by becoming the only member of “The Squad” to vote for it. On her website she provided the following explanation for her vote:

As I have noted many times before, I arrive at my decisions in close partnership with community. Today I cast a yes vote on H.Res 246 as an expression of  solidarity with Jewish families and with marginalized communities that continue to face heightened threats to their safety in this volatile moment driven by hateful rhetoric from the Trump Administration. Today’s vote gave us a very narrow and rushed opportunity to engage on an issue that warrants much further meaningful dialogue with the voices of all impacted at the table to say the very least. As a dedicated advocate for survivors of violence and trauma, I will continue to support a two-state solution. I am also proud to be a co-sponsor of H.Res 496 Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Rep. John Lewis’s resolution that opposes any and all unconstitutional efforts to undermine and limit the rights of individuals to peacefully protest and engage in boycotts.  I was raised in the tradition of protest and organizing and I support our ability to raise our voices through peaceful protest and action is a sacred right that has played a pivotal role in this nation’s history. We can call out and question the tactics of a movement but we should never question or marginalize the lived experiences and voices of those who call out for civil rights and liberties, including the Palestinian people.

That wasn’t enough for critics on Twitter. Asked for further explanation, Pressley posted a lengthy thread going into more detail. Here’s that thread converted into one piece of text:

I grew up on my mother’s hip at organizing meetings. I would not be here today without the concerted protests and sacrifice of generations who fought for civil rights and liberation. I’m a proud co-sponsor of Rep Omar & Rep Lewis’s HRes 496 because of that fundamental belief. There are a lot of anti-BDS bills out there that infringe on 1st amendment rights at the state and federal level. In my view, HRes 246 wasn’t one of them. What I heard resounding in community was that voting yes on this resolution affirmed to my constituents raised in the Jewish faith Israel’s right to exist, a view I share as a supporter of a two state solution. Like Congressman John Lewis, I believe that I can hold these strong views without opposition. Protest is sacred and activism is critical. If S.1 were to come to the House floor, I would vote NO. We can call out and question the tactics of a movement but we should never question or marginalize the lived experiences and voices of those who call out for civil rights & liberties, including the Palestinian people. This resolution does not mitigate the pain and trauma of the Palestinian people and as with my co-sponsorship of the McCollum bill I will cont to be a strident voice critiquing conservative Israeli policies. Dissent is patriotic here and [with] our allies. We each take these votes alone but aim to represent the districts we serve. My position is similar to that of Rep Khanna, Sen Warren and Sen Sanders. But I speak only for myself when I share my deliberative process here. This was not an easy vote. In my early months in Congress it has been clear rushing votes to the floor entrenches the status quo and hamstrings our ability to talk about nuanced issues. I made clear with leadership this bill never should have been fast tracked. It was in my view reckless for many reasons. I remain your steadfast partner in the MA 7th even when we may share different views on a vote or an issue. Let this moment be a catalyst for continued honest dialogue on issues of consequence for all of us.

Ro Khanna isn’t currently cosponsoring either of these measures, although he backed a previous version of the McCollum bill. Earlier this week his office informed Mondoweiss that Khanna was still evaluating the new legislation as its changed since last time. Unlike Pressley’s vote, Khanna’s vote on the anti-BDS resolution was hardly surprising as he’d been a cosponsor since March.

After being confronted about this vote on Twitter, Khanna sent out the following tweets in response to some of his critics:










In addition to Pressley, Omar’s bill affirming the right to boycott obtained two additional sponsors last night: Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). S.Res.120, the Senate’s version of H.Res. 246, currently has 68 cosponsors and 30 of them are Democrats.

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Sounds like Pressley’s and some of these other votes may have been tactical, to avoid an immediate financial onslaught from Israel in the comming elections, while staying in the game and organizing support for justice for the Palestinians. Given Israel’s huge financial influence in American elections, any resistance movement will probably require a phalanx of Congressional members to stand up to Israel simultaneously. That would open the battle for truth and justice on many fronts… Read more »

Benjamins, baby, it’s benjamins for the campaigns to come.

> Ro Khanna I will continue to support non violent, Palestinian human rights activists You will continue to support the hundreds of unarmed Palestinian activists murdered by Israeli snipers in Gaza? You will continue to support the tens of thousands of unarmed Palestinian activists wounded and maimed by those Israeli snipers? What form will your support take Ro? Will you send letters of condolence to the families of the dead Palestinians? Sorrow that your country… Read more »