Bipartisan House Resolution Introduced Rebuking Global BDS Movement and Supporting Two State Solution in Israel

March 26, 2019 by TWN Staff
A picture taken on Oct. 9, 2018 shows a general view of the West Bank city of Nablus. (Shadi Hatem/APA Images/Zuma Press/TNS)

This week, four members of the House introduced a bipartisan resolution opposing efforts to delegitimize the state of Israel by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.

Text of the resolution, introduced by Representatives Brad Schneider, D-Ill., Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., and Ann Wagner, R-Mo., calls out the campaign for “targeting Israel [in] a campaign that does not favor a two-state solution and that seeks to exclude the State of Israel and the Israeli people from the economic, cultural, and academic life of the rest of the world.”

The resolution also states that BDS “undermines the possibility for a negotiated solution” to the conflict by “demanding concessions of one party alone and encouraging the Palestinians to reject negotiations in favor of international pressure.”

The BDS Movement, according to their website, is a “Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality, [that] upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity…Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS call urges action to pressure Israel to comply with international law.” BDS, by their own claims, “is an inclusive, anti-racist human rights movement that is opposed on principle to all forms of discrimination, including anti-semitism and Islamophobia.”

Yet many scholars and supporters say the BDS movement is inherently anti-semitic and holds Israel to a double-standard that the U.S. doesn’t enforce on other Middle Eastern countries that suppress dissidents and minorities.

The four members issued a joint statement on the resolution that said “[a] two-state solution remains the best way to justly resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ensure a future for two peoples living side-by-side in peace, security and prosperity.

“By denying the Jewish claim to a homeland, the BDS Movement is fundamentally incompatible with a two-state solution and pushes the cause of peace for both Israel and the Palestinians further out of reach,” the bill sponsors continued. “This resolution makes clear that Congress remains committed to a two-state solution and opposes zero-sum efforts to delegitimize the state of Israel.”

The debate over the resolution is likely to be contentious as some Democrats are supporters of the BDS movement, namely Representative Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress, and Representative Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who has been in the news recently for controversial comments made about Israel and Jewish people that many rebuked as anti-semitic.

The Well News reached out to Rep. Omar’s office for comment on this resolution but has not received a response.

Representative Tlaib’s spokesperson told CNN that she will oppose the resolution.

“Peaceful forms of speech, including economic boycotts, are constitutionally protected. Where would civil rights in the United States be without the heroic Montgomery bus boycotts?” said Denzel McCampbell, Tlaib’s communications director. “Congresswoman Tlaib obviously opposes this resolution because it is aimed at suppressing free speech and moves us no closer to peace and understanding. The economic boycott of Israel or any other government based on violations of human rights is about highlighting the injustices that need to stop.”

According CNN, the four drafters of the resolution began work on the resolution in January, prior to Omar’s controversial comments.

The timing of this resolution coincides with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington, D.C. this week. At the conference, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remarked, “From this Benjamin, it’s not about the Benjamins.” It was an apparent jab at Rep. Omar for a controversial tweet that said “It’s all about the benjamins baby,” implying that U.S. elected officials are paid for their support for Israel.

The conference has been in the news as prominent Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke, Peter Buttigieg, and Julian Castro have decided not to attend the conference this year, marking a turbulent time in the U.S.-Israel relationship. In previous years, the conference has been a bipartisan affair, with Hillary Clinton speaking in both 2008 and 2016, while President Obama also addressed the conference in 2008.

Sanders’s policy director Josh Orton told several media outlets that the Vermont senator won’t attend AIPAC because “he’s concerned about the platform AIPAC is providing for leaders who have expressed bigotry and oppose a two-state solution.”

Senate Minority Leader Steny Hoyer, who spoke at the conference, said “I stand with Israel, proudly and unapologetically. So, when someone accuses American supporters of Israel of dual loyalty, I say: Accuse me. I am part of a large, bipartisan coalition in Congress supporting Israel. I tell Israel’s detractors: Accuse us.”

Hoyer later indicated his support for the bipartisan resolution. But currently, no vote is scheduled on the resolution and it is unclear whether it will be brought to the floor, although CNN reported that an aide to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he “believes the BDS movement should be condemned.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Senate Majority Mitch McConnell also addressed the conference this year.

Speaker Pelosi strongly rebuked anti-semitism, saying, “In our democratic societies, we should honor legitimate debate on how best to honor our values and to advance our priorities without questioning loyalty or patriotism.”

Minority Leader Schumer, in his speech, railed against the “ancient poison” of anti-semitism. He added, “When someone says that being Jewish and supporting Israel means you’re not loyal to America, we must call it out. When someone looks at a neo-Nazi rally and sees some ‘very fine people’ among its company, we must call it out,” a rebuke of President Trump’s remarks following the violence at the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

Majority Leader McConnell, in his speech, touted a Senate bill to counter the BDS Movement and other popular measures in the American Jewish community.

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