Rep. Ilhan Omar drew praise for introducing a resolution on Wednesday affirming the use of boycotts as constitutionally-protected free speech and a tactic for effecting social change.
“This is HISTORIC!” tweeted antiwar group CodePink.
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Co-sponsored by Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and John Lewis (Ga.), H.R. 496 says that “governments and nongovernmental organizations alike have sought to criminalize, stigmatize, and delegitimize the use of boycotts in an attempt to stifle constitutionally protected political expression.”
Per the text, the resolution:
- affirms that all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad, as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution;
- opposes unconstitutional legislative efforts to limit the use of boycotts to further civil rights at home and abroad; and
- urges Congress, states, and civil rights leaders from all communities to endeavor to preserve the freedom of advocacy for all by opposing anti-boycott resolutions and legislation.
The resolution from Omar—who’s faced repeated criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike for noting the power of the Israel lobby—does not mention Israel, Palestine, or the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement known as BDS.
Still, CodePink, in an email to supporters, framed the new measure as “a counterweight” to the bipartisan H.R. 246, a pending measure that seeks to oppose “efforts to delegitimize the state of Israel and the global boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement targeting Israel.”
Strikingly, while Lewis is a co-sponsor of H.R. 246, Tlaib and other critics of the anti-BDS proposal have called it “unconstitutional.”
Lewis’s co-sponsorship of the new H.Res.496, CodePink said in its email, is one “of the most incredible aspects of this resolution.” The group noted that he’s “a long-time civil rights leader and 32-year-long congressmember known for his strong support for Israel.”
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