September 16, 2019

Don’t Take a Victory Lap Just Yet, Anti-BDS Bill is Merely the Tip of the Iceberg

Last month, the United States House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed bipartisan legislation (House Resolution 246) to condemn and oppose the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement which both directly and indirectly targets Israel by falsely labeling it as an apartheid state, by seeking to damage its economic, cultural and academic standing and actively by seeking ways to destroy the two-state solution; the only resolve for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

HR 246 states that the BDS movement is one that “promotes principles of collective guilt, mass punishment and group isolation, which are destructive of prospects for progress towards peace.” 

The bipartisan resolution went through with a 398-to-17 vote, and with five members voting present. Sixteen out of the seventeen congressmen and women who voted against HR 246 were Democrats and one was a Republican, Rep. Tom Massi (R-KY). All five who voted to abstain from voting were Democrats, except for Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI).

This lopsided vote demonstrated what Speaker Nany Pelosi (D-CA) has consistently pointed out: that Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) — otherwise dubbed the “Squad” – are in the minority of the increasingly left-wing Democratic Party.  

There has been a debate, albeit a war, between AOC and her “Squad” versus Pelosi, Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and the more mainstream leadership of the Democratic Party. But Pelosi is right: The “Squad” don’t have many votes because if they did, they would have so many more Democrats who would have defected and gone in for their pro-BDS legislation. 

The passage of HR 246 was largely in response to Omar’s non-binding House Resolution 496, a pro-BDS resolution which, while it doesn’t mention Israel by name, compares a boycott of the Jewish state today to boycotts of Nazi Germany – a nation that carried out the mass murder of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust.

And not only is the text of Omar’s resolution which compares the boycotts of Israel to boycotts of Nazi-Germany and the Soviet Union egregious, but they are a way to justify discrimination against Jews based on the fact that some of them feel a close relationship to Israel; an anti-Semitic trope of “dual loyalty” she has referenced in the past.

As I’ve stated before, “Omar’s pro-BDS resolution isn’t about fee speech – it’s about hating Israel and the Jews.”

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), who is Jewish, told the Jerusalem Post, “I can’t imagine that any committee is going to mark up or take seriously any pro-BDS resolution.” 

Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), also Jewish and facing a primary challenge backed by the Justice Democrats, the group that helped boost AOC to victory, criticized the BDS movement as a “cancer” but didn’t mention Omar by name.

Similarly, Omar’s BDS resolution doesn’t mention Israel by name, but the truth is clear as day.

The “Squad” has demonstrated once again that they are fringe. And with the overwhelming majority of both Democrats and Republicans taking a stand against the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel BDS movement, last week’s vote serves as a rebuke to the “popular” narrative that the media and the “Squad” keeps pushing over social media.

It should come as no surprise then that “The Squad” is also supported by the Justice Democrats, which have connections to Qatar; a stalwart supporter of Hamas and home to the Muslim Brotherhood’s de-factor spiritual leader Yusuf al Qaradawi.

That said, there were very few people in the Democratic Party who were willing to come out and vocally condemn BDS.

Some outlets have written that Omar has support from “many leading Democrats and progressive American Jewish groups, like Jewish Voice For Peace.” These groups are themselves the premiere platforms from which anti-Semitism gains its footing. 

To this day, the fear that BDS is making significant inroads in the Democratic Party, while warranted, is not yet to the point that American Jews will need to exit the United States like the Jews of France, Germany, Belgium and England have increasingly been forced to do. However, if more isn’t done to address this troubling narrative, history will repeat itself.

The progressive far out lefties who are BDS supporters pretend they are mainstream and more popular than the BDS movement actually is. And even with the Democratic Party’s move significantly further left over the past few years, there is still a healthy amount of opposition to BDS. Despite this, it is not time to take a victory lap.

Plainly and simply, BDS is a declaration of economic and ideological warfare against Israel.

Five year ago, under the Obama administration the scenario would have been vastly different. And in another five years from now it will be even more so. President Donald Trump is the most pro-Israel and pro-Jewish commander-in-chief in America’s history. But in another two to six years, he will be out of office. 

What comes next?

This is not to say that vigilance is not a necessity. The situation in England with virulent anti-Semite and U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn should serve as a warning to the United States about the dangers of brushing fringe elements under the rug. That said, the jubilant triumph the BDS movement tends to march forth with doesn’t correspond to reality.

Europe has long warned the United States about the dangers of not taking the threat of anti-Semitism, especially from the far-left, seriously. I recall my work as far back as a decade ago with the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think tank focusing on global issues during which I spoke with many Britons who saw the writing on the wall but chose to remain silent. 

Their silence got them the Labour Party’s Jeremy Corbyn.

To quote Ecclesiastes, in the Torah (also known as the Old Testament), “There is a time for everything under the sun.”

It’s time to put aside the victim mentality. It’s time to stop playing defense. It’s time to go on the offensive. Before it’s too late again.