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  • The U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass an anti-BDS bill.

    The U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass an anti-BDS bill. | Photo: Reuters

Published 25 July 2019

The two progressive congresswomen were criticized by pro-Palestine activists over supporting the pro-Israel legislation. 

The 2020 U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard came under fire for voting in favor of condemning the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement

RELATED:

Ilhan Omar Introduces Bill Backing Pro-Palestine BDS Movement

The U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday passed (398-17) a nonbinding resolution condemning the BDS movement. 

Gabbard is the only presidential candidate to vote for the bill. Two of the three Democratic members of Congress still running for president, Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Tim Ryan of Ohio, were absent during the vote. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, known for her pro-Israel views, was absent during the vote as well.

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 for its human rights abuse of Palestinians. 

Along with Gabbard, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley voted in favor of the bill while the rest of her “squad,” namely Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, voted against the bill. 

The House Resolution 246 (HRes246) says the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS Movement) targeting Israel is 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 bill was introduced by the largest pro-Israel lobby in the U.S., the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in March. AIPAC has considered HRes246 a top priority. 

“Israel has long been targeted with economic warfare, as have American companies doing business with the Jewish state. Most recently, these attacks have taken the form of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). Congress has a proud history of defending Israel and American companies from such attacks. Please urge your representative to cosponsor H.Res. 246—a bipartisan anti-BDS resolution..” AIPAC’s website said. 

Tulsi Gabbard, a self-professed progressive who opposes U.S. interventionist policies, received flak for supporting the bill, and so did Ayanna Pressley. 

“People are legitimately surprised that a politician associated with the RSS voted to condemn BDS. Idiots,” wrote journalist Sameera Khan on Twitter. 

RSS is the far-right parent organization of India’s ruling party BJP. Their ideology is to establish a Hindu nation in Indian and BJP supporters are involved in lynching of Muslim minorities in India. Gabbard has always spoken in favor of the Hindu majority in India and how India is a nation of Hindus. 

Ayanna Pressley was equally condemned along with Congressman Rohan Khanna. 

Many progressive groups came out opposing the bill. Jewish Voice for Peace, a pro-Palestinian Jewish-American advocacy group, said the resolution "continues a dangerous trend of censoring criticism of the actions of the Israeli government. The Israeli government has shown, over and over, that it will continue to violate Palestinian human rights with impunity.”

Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Pramila Jayapal all voted against the bill. 

“I stand before you as the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, parents who experienced being stripped of their human rights, the right to freedom of travel, equal treatment,” Tlaib said. 

“So I can’t stand by and watch this attack on our freedom of speech and the right to boycott the racist policies of the government and the state of Israel.”

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