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July 28, 2019 10:46 pm

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib Defends BDS Against Charges of Antisemitism in CNN Interview

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US Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) speaks at a rally calling on Congress to censure President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, April 30, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Aaron P. Bernstein.

Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib defended the BDS movement in a CNN interview Sunday, claiming it was merely aimed at “criticizing the racist policies of Israel.”

Tlaib is an outspoken supporter of BDS and a strong opponent of the House resolution condemning the movement that was overwhelmingly passed last week.

In an interview with Jake Tapper, Tlaib was asked about Senator Chuck Schumer’s statement, “When there is such a double standard, when the world treats everybody one way and the Jew or the Jewish state another way, there’s only one word for it: antisemitism!”

“Why focus on just Israel?” Tapper asked, wondering if she’d oppose Saudi Arabia or other countries in the same way.

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“Absolutely, and I think if there was an economic boycott movement around Saudi Arabia, I’d be the first to sign up for it,” Tlaib replied.

“I can tell you they’re all around college campuses, there are Jews, Muslims, Hindus, all different kinds of backgrounds, who are pushing back against racist policies in Israel,” she said, “because they see that the human rights violations, of children being detained, the fact that my grandmother who lives in the West Bank right now does not have equality, she doesn’t have freedom of travel.”

“She is someone that right now, under occupation, is feeling less than,” Tlaib asserted.

Using the common BDS talking point comparing the anti-Israel movement to the African-American civil rights movement, Tlaib said, “Every corner in Detroit, right here, you will see a reminiscence of the civil rights movement, the labor rights movement, and we did it by economic boycott. It is a form of freedom of speech.”

“But people want to dismiss it, because they’re trying to say it’s antisemitism,” she added. “That’s just a way of trying to discredit the fact that we all know, under Netanyahu’s regime, human rights violations have gotten worse.”

“Why not boycott Egypt?” Tapper asked.

“I would boycott Egypt, of course,” Tlaib replied. “But right now there is not a bill or resolution on the floor that is saying stop boycotting Egypt. And I would absolutely oppose any sort of oppression of freedom of speech, of first amendment rights in this country.”

“It’s a slippery slope, Jake, because tomorrow, if folks want to boycott Saudi Arabia and there’s a movement and it’s got a name, they’re going to go ahead and pass a resolution saying, you don’t have freedom of speech, you don’t have a right to the first amendment?” she asked. “You can’t be double standard.”

“Do you think the Jewish people have the right to a state in the area where Israel exists now?” asked Tapper

“Look, I truly believe the State of Israel exists, correct, but understand, does it exist in the detriment of inequality for the Palestinian people?” she replied. “We’re not going to have peace if we don’t understand that we are demonizing Palestinians every single day when we choose Israel over their rights,” Tlaib continued.

Tapper then forthrightly asked, “Yes or no, does Israel have a right to exist?”

“Oh, of course, but just like Palestinians have a right to exist,” Tlaib said. “Palestinians also have a right to human rights. We can’t say one or the other, we have to say in the same breath or we’re not going to actually have a peaceful resolution.”

Tlaib has previously expressed opposition to a two-state solution, preferring a “one-state solution” in which Israel would become an Arab majority state.

Supporters of BDS say they seek divestment from companies that benefit from violations of international law. Critics, however, accuse the campaign of utilizing antisemitic tactics and rejecting the Jewish people’s right to self-determination.

Watch the full interview below:

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