Skip to content Skip to footer

209 Democrats Join GOP to Pass Resolution Condemning Pro-Palestinian Boycott

The vote came just days after Israeli forces demolished dozens of Palestinian homes.

Supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement protest an executive order issued by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo requiring state agencies to divest from organizations that support the BDS movement during an action on June 9, 2016, in New York City.

Just days after Israeli forces demolished dozens of Palestinian homes in what international observers said amounted to a war crime, the U.S. House of Representatives late Tuesday passed a resolution condemning the non-violent boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement that is working to put an end to Israel’s brutal occupation.

The non-binding resolution, H.Res. 246, passed with the support of 209 House Democrats and 189 Republicans. Just 16 Democrats and one Republican — Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) — voted against the measure, which civil liberties groups and Palestinian rights advocates decried as an assault on free expression.

“Right now, Israel is breaking international law and demolishing Palestinian homes,” Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, said in a statement. “The Israeli government has shown, over and over, that it will continue to violate Palestinian human rights with impunity. This is precisely why the boycott, sanctions, and divestment movement should be protected, and not attacked.”

“BDS holds Israel accountable,” added Vilkomerson, “unlike the White House or Congress.”

Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement, slammed the House resolution as a “McCarthyite, anti-Palestinian measure” that would undermine First Amendment rights.

“It reinforces other McCarthyite anti-BDS laws, and will have a chilling effect on free speech,” said Barghouti, “especially speech that is critical of Israel’s military occupation and apartheid.”

Progressives urged House Democratic leaders to abandon the non-binding measure ahead of Tuesday’s vote, but the leadership ultimately sided with the right wing of the caucus, which has reportedly been demanding the vote for months.

In a speech on the House floor ahead of the vote, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) — the first Palestinian-American woman ever elected to Congress and an outspoken supporter of the BDS movement — called the House measure an “attack on our freedom of speech and the right to boycott the racist policies of the government and the state of Israel.”

“It sets a dangerous precedent because it attempts to delegitimize a certain people’s political speech and to send a message that our government can and will take action against speech it doesn’t like,” said Tlaib, who voted against the resolution.

Palestinian rights groups made it a point to applaud Tlaib and the few other lawmakers who broke from their party to vote against the anti-BDS measure.

The 16 Democrats who voted against the resolution were: Reps. Tlaib, Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), André Carson (Ind.), Debbie Dingell (Mich.), Jesús García (Ill.), Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Betty McCollum (Minn.), Gwen Moore (Wis.), Chellie Pingree (Maine), Mark Pocan (Wis.), Bobby Rush (Ill.), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.).

“We applaud the brave representatives who defend the non-violent boycott movement and human rights advocates,” Stefanie Fox, deputy director of Jewish Voice for Peace, said in a statement. “Our values of equality and justice shouldn’t end when it comes to Israel/Palestine. If our elected officials can’t stand up for those values everywhere, they should at least stop obstructing those of us who will.”

​​Not everyone can pay for the news. But if you can, we need your support.

Truthout is widely read among people with lower ­incomes and among young people who are mired in debt. Our site is read at public libraries, among people without internet access of their own. People print out our articles and send them to family members in prison — we receive letters from behind bars regularly thanking us for our coverage. Our stories are emailed and shared around communities, sparking grassroots mobilization.

We’re committed to keeping all Truthout articles free and available to the public. But in order to do that, we need those who can afford to contribute to our work to do so — especially now, because we only have the rest of today to raise $20,000 in critical funds.

We’ll never require you to give, but we can ask you from the bottom of our hearts: Will you donate what you can, so we can continue providing journalism in the service of justice and truth?