I say “wow” because this is the last thing Pelosi and the party should want to debate right now after all the hard feelings within the caucus over Ilhan Omar and anti-semitism. You’d expect Dem leaders would go out of their way to keep any legislation involving Israel off the House floor, if only to avoid a new round of, ahem, uncomfortable conversations about how Omar and other progressive freshmen feel about the Jewish state.
But not only are pro-Israel Dems trying to force this, they have powerful allies behind the bill. One of the co-sponsors is none other than Jerry Nadler, head of the Judiciary Committee. This isn’t some backbencher proposal that Pelosi can stick in a drawer. This is something with real muscle behind it. And there’s no partisan fig leaf here that might be used to present it as some sort of tough vote for Republicans. The GOP will support this bill almost unanimously.
I don’t know how else to read this except as a reprisal for all the wagon-circling lately inside the caucus around Omar. Nadler and other BDS opponents are going to force the anti-Israel crowd to show their cards. If, that is, they really do manage to get this to a vote. Maybe Pelosi will reluctantly conclude that she has no choice, given all the annoyance among Israel supporters at how the resolution about Omar was watered down.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) introduced a resolution Thursday that denounces boycotting efforts as “incompatible” with the official U.S. stance on a two-state solution to end the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In a letter to colleagues Thursday, Nadler and Schneider described the global attempt to economically isolate Israel as an “overly-simplistic and one-sided approach.”
“Its goal is Israel’s elimination, not the criticism of any particular policy of Israel,” they wrote of the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or BDS, which has been cheered by some outside progressive groups.
The resolution is “a chance for much of the party to unify around support for the key U.S. ally,” notes Politico. Unify? Ilhan Omar is on record as supporting BDS!
Ilhan Omar, the newly elected congresswoman from Minnesota, said after being elected that she supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel, after saying during her campaign that it was “counteractive” and prevents dialogue…
“Ilhan believes in and supports the BDS movement, and has fought to make sure people’s right to support it isn’t criminalized,” her campaign told Muslim Girl after the election. “She does, however, have reservations on the effectiveness of the movement in accomplishing a lasting solution.”
Another member of the “Squad,” Rashida Tlaib, also supports BDS, telling the Intercept in December that she views the movement as a way to bring attention to “issues like the racism and the international human rights violations by Israel right now.” Having the two Muslim Democrats in the freshman class vote no on Nadler’s resolution will cause more anxiety for the party and that anxiety will deepen depending on how many leftist colleagues join them. Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pro-BDS? She seems to share most of Omar’s and Tlaib’s garbage political opinions. There are dozens of other members of the House Progressive Caucus, surely some of whom will vote for BDS as well. At a moment when Democratic leaders want to paper over the party’s ideological divide on Israel, as they’ve done successfully for years, Nadler and Schneider seem to want to expose it. Why?
I don’t think this is aimed squarely at their own caucus. Pro-Israel Dems may also be worried about MoveOn laying down the law to Democratic presidential candidates by warning them not to attend this year’s AIPAC conference in D.C. (“It’s time for progressives to recognize where their base stands––which means upholding progressive principles on domestic AND foreign policy.”) Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren have already bowed to their demands. Presumably Nadler et al. are watching anti-Israel pressure tactics from the left working to influence the 2020 field and figure there’s no time to waste in exerting counterpressure in Israel’s favor. They may also be worried about pro-Israel voters watching the party drift towards antagonism to the Jewish state and believe that a House resolution condemning BDS that passes overwhelmingly (although far from unanimously) will help reassure them that Democrats still support Israel on balance.
One sweet bonus to all this: If the resolution makes it to the floor, it’ll pass and McConnell will most definitely seize the opportunity to hold a Senate vote on it. He wants Bernie, Harris, Warren, and the rest of the 2020 crowd there to have to pick a side on this issue. What’ll it be?