Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) told Mondoweiss that, while he doesn’t support criminalizing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), he doesn’t believe that “BDS will help achieve either a two state solution or the recognition of rights for Palestinians.”
Khanna is currently one of the one hundred seventy-four Democrats cosponsoring House Resolution 246 (H.Res.246), a bipartisan piece of legislation that affirms the U.S. government’s commitment to a two-state solution while condemning BDS as a movement that “promotes principles of collective guilt, mass punishment, and group isolation…”
Mondoweiss reached out to Khanna’s office inquiring why the congressman supports the resolution and he responded with the following statement:
“I oppose criminalizing the BDS-movement and have stayed off bills that do so or impose any penalty. The First Amendment is a key foundation of our country that we must protect. Nothing in the Schneider resolution that I cosponsored infringes on any American’s First Amendment right to protest the U.S. or any foreign country, and I advocated with other progressives to have that clarifying language included. I have supported numerous pieces of legislation that prevented any U.S. funds from being used towards the unlawful detention of Palestinian children and have stood up for the human rights of Palestinian children—but like Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and other progressive leaders, I do not believe BDS will help achieve either a two state solution or the recognition of rights for Palestinians. We should continue to work to find constructive ways to achieve peace and a resolution to the conflict.”
Like Khanna, a number of the resolution’s supporters have also pointed to its First Amendment protections but its critics believe that the political capital generated by the bill’s passage will be used to pass much more aggressive anti-BDS measures in the future. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) has tweeted that the bill is “unconstitutional” and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has introduced her own resolution to affirm Americans’ right to boycott foreign countries.
Khanna’s statement references H.R. 4391, the Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act. That bill was introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) in 2017 and would have required the Secretary of State to certify annually that U.S. funds weren’t used by Israel to detain children. That bill ended up dying in a previous congressional session after obtaining 31 cosponsors, but McCollum reintroduced a similar piece of legislation this April: H.R. 2407. This version would amend the Foreign Assistance Act to block funding for the military detention of children in any country, including Israel. “Israel’s system of military juvenile detention is state-sponsored child abuse designed to intimidate and terrorize Palestinian children and their families,” McCollum has said of the legislation, “It must be condemned, but it is equally outrageous that U.S. tax dollars in the form of military aid to Israel are permitted to sustain what is clearly a gross human rights violation against children.” Khanna isn’t signed on as a cosponsor for H.R. 2407, but his office told Mondoweiss that he’s currently evaluating the bill as it’s changed since the last time it was introduced.
Since being elected to Congress in 2017, Khanna has distinguished himself as a progressive leader on foreign policy issues. Most notably he has become the legislative face of the campaign to end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen. Earlier this year, the House approved a bill introduced by Khanna that would have cut off U.S. involvement from the conflict, but it was vetoed by President Trump.
H.Res.246 was just marked up by the House Foreign Affairs Committee and it’s expected that the House of Representatives will vote on the measure this week.