The House voted yesterday to condemn the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign for Palestinian rights, with notable dissension from 17 representatives and 5 abstentions. The resolution smears and makes false statements against a movement that is rooted in freedom, equality, and justice.
In a period when Israel continues to show disregard for Palestinian human rights by demolishing homes in Jerusalem and the Trump administration stokes hatred against immigrants, progressives, and congressional advocates for Palestine, it is troubling that the Democrat-led House would align itself with a rightwing condemnation of a grassroots human rights movement.
This official condemnation has the potential to chill advocacy. It may intimidate people from speaking up and empower other actors - from universities to state governments to social media platforms - to target activists and censure other protest movements.
The House had an opportunity to reject this resolution and affirm that boycotts are protected political speech, as Representatives Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and John Lewis introduced in a resolution last week. Instead the House used the opportunity to score pro-Israel points at the expense of human rights advocacy.
Fortunately, this is a nonbinding resolution that has no legal impact on our right to boycott for justice. Politicians can condemn the movement all they want, but they can’t legislate away our constitutional right to boycott.
We encourage activists and advocates to realize the weight of their power in boycotting for justice: 27 states and the House of Representatives understand that peaceful organizing for Palestinian human rights will change the status quo.
Now is the time to prove that not even Congress can disrupt a movement for justice and freedom.
See how your representative voted and contact them to thank them or express your disapproval here (via Jewish Voice for Peace)