Ilhan Omar Pushes Pro-BDS Resolution, Opposes Israeli Aid Bill

Invokes American Revolution in support of BDS movement

Rep. Ilhan Omar/ Getty Images
July 17, 2019

Freshman representative Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), whose past anti-Semitic remarks have drawn widespread condemnation, is pushing a pro-Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) resolution in Congress this week.

Omar is co-sponsoring the resolution, which would affirm the right to engage in boycotts as a First Amendment freedom, with Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) and John Lewis (D., Ga.).

Omar invoked the American Revolution by comparing the BDS movement to the Boston Tea Party in a video from America Rising.

"We must support efforts to end the occupation and achieve two-state solution," Omar said during a congressional hearing. "We should condemn in the strongest terms violence that perpetuates the occupation whether it is perpetuated by Israel, Hamas, or individuals. But if we are going to condemn violent means of resisting the occupation, we cannot also condemn non-violent means," she continued.

"We cannot simultaneously say we want peace, then openly oppose peaceful means to hold our allies accountable."

The non-binding resolution "recognizes the proud history of boycott movements in this country dating back to the Boston Tea Party," according to Omar.

Al-Monitor reported that Democratic leaders are planning to push an anti-BDS resolution this week. Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.), the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, will hold a vote on the bipartisan anti-BDS resolution introduced by Bradley Schneider (D., Il.) and Lee Zeldin (R., N.Y.). The committee will also consider a military aid bill to finalize a 10-year, $38 billion memorandum of understanding with Israel.

Engel was one of the few Democrats to strongly denounce Omar's anti-Semitic comments, saying the congresswoman "invoked a vile anti-Semitic slur." He is facing multiple primary challengers, one of whom has been endorsed by Justice Democrats, the far-left political action committee that helped propel Omar into her congressional seat.

Omar told Al-Monitor that despite the bipartisan support behind both the anti-BDS resolution and the military aid bill, she plans to vote no on both.

Both during and after the hearing, Rep. Zeldin hit back at Omar for her support of BDS. He criticized her for singling out Israel, and tweeted, "Israel is our best ally in the Mid East; a beacon of hope, freedom & liberty, surrounded by existential threats. Shame on Rep Ilhan Omar for bringing her hateful twist on that reality to House Foreign today, propping up the BDS movement & blaming Israel for all of its challenges."

A poll released last month showed that a majority of Americans held favorable views of Israel and of American support of its ally, while just 21 percent of respondents held negative views.