update deskBoycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS)

Pressley explains split from ‘The Squad’ in voting for anti-BDS resolution

U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) defended her vote condemning the anti-Israel BDS movement—a split from the so-called “Squad” that includes Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) Official photo.
Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) Official photo.

U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) has defended her vote on Tuesday condemning the anti-Israel BDS movement—a split from the so-called “Squad” that includes Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

The resolution passed with 398 votes in favor, 17 against and 5 present.

It was introduced by Reps. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Ann Wagner (R-Mo.). It had 351 co-sponsors: 176 Republicans and 175 Democrats.

“There are a lot of anti-BDS bills out there that infringe on 1st amendment rights at the state and federal level. In my view, HRes 246 wasn’t one of them,” tweeted Pressley in a thread.

“What I heard resounding in community was that voting yes on this resolution affirmed to my constituents raised in the Jewish faith Israel’s right to exist, a view I share as a supporter of a two state solution,” she continued. “Like Congressman John Lewis, I believe that I can hold these strong views without opposition. Protest is sacred and activism is critical.”

However, Pressley stated that she would vote on the House floor against a Senate bill, passed in February, that would allow state and local governments the right to punish state or local contractors from engaging in boycotting Israel.

“We can call out and question the tactics of a movement but we should never question or marginalize the lived experiences and voices of those who call out for civil rights & liberties, including the Palestinian people,” tweeted Pressley.

Among those who voted against the anti-BDS resolution, 16 of them were Democrats, while the lone Republican was Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie.

Pressley does support two anti-Israel measures: Omar’s pro-BDS resolution, which has nine co-sponsors, and Rep. Betty McCollum’s (D-Minn.) Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act, which has 21 co-sponsors.

“I grew up on my mother’s hip at organizing meetings. I would not be here today without the concerted protests and sacrifice of generations who fought for civil rights and liberation. I’m a proud co-sponsor of Rep Omar & Rep Lewis’s HRes 496 because of that fundamental belief,” tweeted Pressley.

Although the pro-BDS resolution does not explicitly name Israel or BDS, Omar told Al-Monitor, “We are introducing a resolution … to really speak about the American values that support and believe in our ability to exercise our First Amendment rights in regard to boycotting. And it is an opportunity for us to explain why it is we support a nonviolent movement, which is the BDS movement.”

McCollum’s bill would mandate that the U.S. government certify that its military funding to Israel is not used for Israel’s alleged “military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children and for other purposes.”

The watchdog group NGO Monitor accused a previous version of the legislation of “exploiting Palestinian children,” noting that it is based on “invented international legal claims.”

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