Palestinian Rights Act Introduced in Congress
Ariel Gold / CodePink
(July 17, 2019) — This is HISTORIC! Rep. Ilhan Omar — along with Reps John Lewis and Rashida Tlaib — just introduced the first-ever congressional resolution supporting the Palestinian grassroots movement to boycott Israel in order to pressure the country to abide by international law and respect the human rights of Palestinians.
Introduced in 2005, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is now a key strategy for promoting Palestinian rights. Unfortunately, Israel, seeking to maintain it’s status quo of occupation and apartheid, treats BDS as public enemy #1, as do many pro-Israel members of the US Congress.
Speaking today to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rep. Omar described how H.Res.496 “recognizes the proud history of boycott movements in this country leading back to the Boston Tea party. We should honor these movements and that history.”
One of the most incredible aspects of this resolution is that it is co-sponsored by Rep. Lewis, a long-time civil rights leader and 32-year-long Congressmember known for his strong support for Israel. Having Rep. Lewis as part of this resolution sends a clear and direct statement that the right to boycott must be protected, regardless of one’s position on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. This is a game-changer!
H.Res.496 will serve as a counterweight to another congressional resolution — H.Res.246 — which condemns the BDS movement. While H.Res.246 is non-binding and doesn’t prescribe specific punishments for those who boycott Israel, it makes false claims.
It says that BDS is anti-semitic, which it is not, and it says that the BDS movement opposes the two-state solution. In fact, BDS doesn’t take a position on a one-state or two-state solution, instead, it is a movement advocating for human rights for all and for adherence to international law.
BDS is Nonviolence in Action
From the Montgomery bus boycott of the civil rights movement to the current Chick-fil-A boycott in support of LGBTQ+ rights, boycotts are a powerful tool of social movements and have been a fundamental part of our country’s progress. The right to engage in boycotts is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Right now two opposing resolutions are moving through Congress: H.Res.246 — likely to be voted on before August recess — is an anti-BDS resolution filled with falsehoods meant to demonize those engaged in the nonviolent BDS movement for Palestinian rights.
H.Res.496, on the other hand, supports BDS by reaffirming the right of the American people to engage in boycotts. It is grounded in the Constitution and our rich history of boycotts for justice.
ACTION: Contact your member of Congress and tell them to vote no on H.Res.246. Ask them instead to cosponsor H.Res.496, Rep. Omar’s historic resolution “affirming that all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad, as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.”
Towards freedom and equality,
Ann, Ariel, Carley, Clara, Georgia, Jodie, Maya, Mark, Medea, Megan, Nancy, Paki, Rose, Ryan, Sarah, Teri, Tighe, Umama, Ursula, and Zena