• Reason to Take Heart: A Bi-Partisan Act of Congress Stands for Israel

    Surge Summary: Democrats and Republicans voted in support of a resolution opposing the anti-Israeli BDS movement. 

    Huzzah! Believe it or not, it appears something sound and good can come out of congressional bi-partisanship! Bi-partisanship – as in, both sides working together? Quick, take a photo while it lasts!

    From Patrick Goodenough/CNSNews.com:

    The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday night passed by an overwhelming margin a resolution opposing the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, with three of the four Democratic freshmen known as “the squad” voting against the majority of their colleagues.

    Sponsored by Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), and co-sponsored by almost 80 percent of the House (175 Republicans and 174 Democrats), H.Res. 46 passed by 398 votes to 17.

    The measure opposes the BDS movement, calls on Israelis and Palestinians to resume direct negotiations, reaffirms support for the so-called “two-state solution” to the conflict, and – in response to a key complaint of opponents – affirms U.S. citizens’ constitutional right to free speech.

    Critics argue that BDS is inherently anti-Semitic, since it targets only the Jewish state and none of the numerous other nations around the world where territorial disputes exist.

    Democratic Representatives Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) spoke on the floor in favor of the resolution ahead of Tuesday’s vote.

    Of course, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), a Palestinian-American, was on the wrong side of this one; contending the motion,

    “sets a dangerous precedent because it attempts to delegitimize a certain people’s political speech, and to send a message that our government can and will take action against speech it doesn’t like.”

    She was among the 17 “no” votes along with – again, of course — her fellow freshmen Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.). Tlaib and Omar, the first Muslim women elected to Congress, have been full-throated boosters of the BDS movement.

    The fourth congresswoman of “The Squad”, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) – pleasant surprise! — supported the move.

    One Republican, Rep. Thomas Massie (Ky.), voted no. The other “no” votes came from Democratic Reps. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), Andre Carson (Ind.), John Dingell (Mich.), Jesus Garcia (Ill.), Raul Grijalva (Ariz.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.) , Barbara Lee (Calif.), Betty McCollum (Minn.), Gwen Moore (Wisc.), Chellie Pingree (Me.), Mark Pocan (Wisc.), Bobby Rush (Ill.), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.)

    Voting “present” were independent Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.) and Democratic Reps. Karen Bass (Calif.), Danny Davis (Ill.), Jared Huffman (Calif.), and Hank Johnson (Ga.)

    Of the three House members running for the Democratic 2020 presidential nomination, Reps. Seth Moulton (Mass.) and Tim Ryan (Ohio) did not vote, while Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) voted “yes.”

    The Democratic caucus this year has been rattled by controversy of the BDS/anti-BDS fracas.

    “There are a lot of people who support the BDS movement but they … may not necessarily understand the intent or the expression of … what it’s fighting for,” [Democratic Rep.] Schneider told CNN. “The fact that it’s not just fighting against the occupation of the West Bank or Gaza; it denies Israel’s connection to the land going back to 1948.”

    CNN’s Dana Bash pressed:  how is it possible to disconnect or separate the endorsers of the movement – which he’d clearly identified as anti-Semitic – from the movement itself?

    “I believe they have a[n] understanding of what they believe the movement does, without fully understanding the impact of it,” he replied.

    Earlier this year while defending Omar, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she did not believe the freshman representative “appreciates the full weight of how” her comments were received by others; i.e. how they could be interpreted as anti-Israel remarks.

    “I don’t think that the congresswoman perhaps appreciates the full weight of how it was heard by other people, although I don’t believe it was intended in an anti-Semitic way,” Pelosi told reporters at the time.

    Meanwhile Omar has introduced a resolution that does not mention BDS, Israel or the Palestinians, but affirms the rights of Americans, under the First Amendment of the Constitution, to participate in boycotts that are intended to promote human rights, in the U.S. or abroad. Tlaib is one of six Democratic co-sponsors.

    The anti-BDS declaration is a commendable effort on the part of Democrats and Republicans in the House. That kind of assessment can’t be offered often so let’s enjoy the moment.

    A bi-partisan initiative, doing something productive? Please pass the smelling salts.


    Image: Adapted from: Takver – originally posted to Flickr as Israel – Boycott, divest, sanction, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11924576

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