US Rep. Tlaib Defends Israel Boycott, Would Expand It to Saudi Arabia and Egypt

Rep. Rashida Tlaib on Sunday defended the economic boycott of Israel as a freedom of speech movement that’s “pushing back against racist policies in Israel.”

Last week, 398 House members overwhelmingly passed a resolution to oppose the BDS movement, with Tlaib casting one of the 17 “no” votes.

“It is a form of freedom of speech. But people want to dismiss it (BDS movement) because they’re trying to say it’s anti-Semitism,” Tliab told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “That’s the way they’re trying to discredit the fact that we all know, under (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu’s regime, human rights violations have gotten worse.”

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is among the lawmakers who view the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as anti-Semitic because it singles out Israel.

“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: anti-Semitism,” Schumer said previously. “Let us call out the BDS movement for what it is.”

But Tliab said her stance isn’t limited to Israel and she would support a boycott of Muslim countries, like Saudi Arabia or Egypt.

“If there was an economic boycott movement around Saudi Arabia, I will be the first to sign up for it,” Tlaib said.

Tlaib, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress along with Rep. Ilhan Omar, made a personal case for the BDS movement.

“All around college campuses, there are Jews, Muslims, Hindus, all different kinds of backgrounds who are pushing back against racist policies in Israel,” Tliab said.

“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.”

Tliab said she supports the right of Israel to exist, but Palestinians also need the right to exist – and with human rights.

“I truly believe the state of Israel exists, correct,” Tlaib said. “But, understand, does it exist in the detriment of inequality for the Palestinian people, detriment of not really moving forward in a peaceful resolution? We’re never going to have peace, I truly believe, if separate but equal is the way they want to go. … We’re not going to have peace if we don’t understand that we are dehumanizing Palestinians every single day when we choose Israel over their rights.”