Playing both sides? J Street ‘opposes’ BDS but backs Omar’s pro-BDS resolution

J Street, part of the Progressive Left, supports Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s right to launch a pro-BDS resolution while claiming the organization is anti-BDS.

By Batya Jerenberg

A progressive left-wing American Jewish organization has come out in favor of Rep. Omar Ilhan’s pro-BDS resolution, agreeing with her that boycott activities are a constitutionally protected right.

J Street, one of 10 American Jewish organizations that launched the “Progressive Israel Network” last month, issued a statement on Thursday saying that it is “strongly” opposed to the global BDS Movement because of its “refusal to recognize the right of Jewish people to national self-determination and its refusal to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Nonetheless, it supports the anti-Israel congresswoman’s resolution, which does not specifically mention Israel, citing the need “to protect the rights of all Americans to non-violent protest and free speech.”

Ilhan’s 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.”

However, the freshman congresswoman admitted in an interview with Al-Monitor, an Arab-American media site, that her motion is “an opportunity for us to explain why it is we support a nonviolent movement, which is the BDS Movement.”

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Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry came out earlier this year with a report showing more than 100 links between terrorist organizations and BDS-supporting groups.

It is widely assumed that Omar’s initiative came in response to a resolution currently being considered in the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Sponsored by Rep. Bradley Schneider (D-Illinois), it counters BDS moves, “including efforts to target United States companies that are engaged in commercial activities that are legal under United States law, and all efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel.”

Twenty-seven states have already adopted laws over the past few years to discourage such boycotts.

Omar’s resolution is co-sponsored by Reps. John Lewis (D-Georgia) and anti-Israel Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan). Tlaib and Omar have both announced a trip to Israel next month. According to Israeli law, the country can deny entry to BDS activists, but it is considered unlikely that the congresswomen will be barred.