September 15, 2019

House Overwhelmingly Passes Anti-BDS Resolution

Photo from Flickr.

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed an anti-boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) resolution on July 23 by a vote of 398 in favor, 17 against and 5 abstentions.

The nonbinding resolution, H.R. 246, condemned the BDS movement for attempting to delegitimize Israel. The resolution had nearly 350 co-sponsors, including Reps. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) and Brad Sherman (D-Calif.). Sixteen of the 17 representatives who voted no were Democrats; four out of the five who voted present also were Democrats. The only non-Democrat who voted present was Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.).

During the 40-minute floor debate on the resolution, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said the BDS movement “promotes a one-sided view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that seeks to marginalize Israel, that would deny the Jewish people the right of national self-determination.” He added, “Participating in an international commercial effort that undermines Israel’s legitimacy and scuttles the chances of a two-state solution isn’t the same as an individual exercising First Amendment rights.”

After the vote, Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) tweeted, “Displays of anti-Semitism have become too frequent in the past few months, even from members of this House of Representatives—and it is time that we stand united in support of Israel.”

Earlier in the day, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) criticized the resolution, saying, “It sets a dangerous precedent because it attempts to delegitimize certain people’s political speech and to send a message that our government can and will take action against speech it doesn’t like”

The Anti-Defamation League and AIPAC praised the passage of the resolution:

StandWithUs CEO and Co-Founder Roz Rothstein similarly said in a statement, “Congress continues to recognize that anti-Israel boycotts are a form of hate which will never lead to justice or peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Everyone who is committed to fighting discrimination and bigotry should follow their lead and oppose these campaigns wherever they occur.”

The House also passed a bill that provides security assistance to Israel as well as a bill that sanctions foreign governments that provide material support for Hamas and Islamic Jihad.