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  • Ilhan Omar introduced pro-BDS bill in the Congress.

    Ilhan Omar introduced pro-BDS bill in the Congress. | Photo: Reuters

Published 17 July 2019

Her pro-BDS resolution might not sit well with the Democratic leadership as they plan to introduce a nonbinding resolution Wednesday condemning the BDS movement. 

U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives Wednesday defending the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and  Sanctions (BDS) movement the lawmaker told the news outlet Al-Monitor.

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“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,” Omar told Al-Monitor. “And it is an opportunity for us to explain why it is we support a nonviolent movement, which is the BDS movement.”

Her resolution might not sit well with the Democratic leadership as they plan to introduce a nonbinding resolution Wednesday condemning the BDS movement. 

The non-violent BDS movement, founded in 2005 by 170 Palestinian unions, political parties, refugee networks, and women organizations, among others, has gained such renown that it was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. 

Inspired by South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement, BDS calls for non-violent pressure on Israel through boycotting any organization linked to Israel, withdrawing investment from Israeli companies, and sanctioning the county until Israel 1) recognizes the right of Palestinian refugees to return, 2) ends the military occupation of Palestine, and 3) ends the apartheid regime by recognizing Palestinian's equal rights.

The movement was not well received by the U.S. political elite due to their close connection with pro-Israel lobbies but two new representatives, namely, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, are supporting the BDS openly and are often attacked over such stance by lawmakers of both Democratic and Republican parties. 

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel resisted Republican’s demands of removing Omar from the committee but he had accused the representative of “invoking a vile, anti-Semitic slur” after she said, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

The anti-BDS bill, introduced by Reps. Bradley Schneider and Lee Zeldin will be voted by Engel’s committee Wednesday and has enough support to pass but Omar will vote no. 

Omar’s bill, however, does not have enough support but she is not willing to give up.  “I am very much driven by the moral clarity that I was sent to govern with, and I’m quite confident that it will withstand pressure,” said Omar.

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