Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) said during a recent appearance on MSNBC that Senate efforts to combat the “discriminatory economic warfare against the Jewish state” are “unconstitutional.”
Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) “Combating BDS Act” was included in a package of bills introduced in early January under a title of “Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act.” Rubio’s bill in particular received significant media attention for its targeting of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.
The BDS movement is widely criticized by Republicans such as Rubio as an “anti-Israel” campaign that “pressures companies to stop doing business in Israel, and banks and funds to divest of investments in Israel,” as Rubio explained in a recent tweet. His bill would allow local and state governments to end contracts with companies that practice BDS tactics.
But the package of bills was stalled in a recent Senate vote of 56-44, and Democrats attributed their opposition to the bills to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) hard-line stance against passing any bills that don’t include government funding.
Rubio, however, said the “shutdown is not the reason Senate Democrats don’t want to move to Middle East security bill.”
“A huge argument broke out at Senate Dem meeting last week over BDS. A significant [number] of Senate Democrats now support BDS and Dem leaders want to avoid a floor vote that reveals that,” he wrote on Twitter.
The shutdown is not the reason Senate Democrats don’t want to move to Middle East Security Bill.
A huge argument broke out at Senate Dem meeting last week over BDS. A significant # of Senate Democrats now support #BDS & Dem leaders want to avoid a floor vote that reveals that.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) January 7, 2019
Among those whom openly support BDS are Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-13), and they both called Rubio’s Combating BDS Act “unconstitutional.”
“It is unconstitutional. I mean, one of the strongest ideals of this nation is that people have an ability to freely express themselves, and I really have a strong belief in the First Amendment,” Omar said in an interview with MSNBC. “I know that so many of the progresses that this nation has achieved came about because people were willing to speak up and ask for change. So we cannot here in the United States say to people that they can’t raise their voice, that they can’t use the resources that they have to oppose oppression wherever it might exist.”
Omar said that she “was not vague about that issue” while on the campaign trail, noting that she voted against a state version of Rubio’s bill while a member of the Minnesota House. There is record of Omar’s previous opposition to anti-BDS measures, and she delivered a floor speech against one such bill in the Minnesota House.
However, she said during an August primary debate while running for Congress that the BDS movement is “counteractive” and wouldn’t be “helpful in getting a two-state solution,” The Minnesota Sun previously reported.
“I support a two-state solution. I think it is going to be important for us to recognize Israel’s place in the Middle-East, and the Jewish people’s rightful place within that region,” Omar said during that debate.
Then, shortly after her election in November, Omar told Muslim Girl that she “believes in and supports the BDS movement,” prompting some concern among the Jewish community.
“Opposition to our bill isn’t about free speech. Companies are free to boycott Israel. But local and state governments should be free to end contracts with companies that do,” Rubio responded. “Many claim they oppose BDS. But shielding BDS from counter-boycotts is de facto support of BDS.”
Opposition to our bill isn’t about free speech. Companies are FREE to boycott Israel. But local & state governments should be FREE to end contracts with companies that do.
Many claim they oppose BDS. But shielding BDS from counter-boycotts is de facto support of BDS.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) January 8, 2019
During a Wednesday appearance on CNN International, Omar was asked about her past anti-Semitic remarks, including one tweet in which she claimed that “Israel has hypnotized the world.”
“Those unfortunate words were the only words I could think about expressing at that moment,” she said.
Here's her tweet https://t.co/ZJMofYgXrh
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) January 16, 2019
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Background Photo “Ilhan Omar” by Michael McIntee.