Three members of “the Squad” –the collective name given to four Democratic congresswomen who are treated with quite unnecessary respect by the mainstream media — Rashida Tlaib (D.-Palestine), Ilhan Omar (D.-Somalia), and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D.-The Bronx) — have just been dealt an overwhelming defeat, their first major legislative setback, that one hopes will be the first of many.
It came in the form of H.Res. 246, which condemns the anti-Israel BDS — Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement.
The Resolution was introduced by Reps. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Ann Wagner (R-Mo.). It had 349 co-sponsors: 175 Republicans and 174 Democrats.
The vote was heartwarmingly lopsided: 398 for, and 17 against.
Among those 17 who voted against it, 16 of them were Democrats, while the lone Republican was Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie.
The Democrats were Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), Andre Carson (Ind.), Debbie Dingell (Mich.), Chuy Garcia (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 (NJ).
Take careful note of those 17 representatives, and when the election season comes round next year, kindly remember them and contribute to whomever is running against them.
“I stand before you the daughter of Palestinian immigrants,” said Tlaib on the House floor the morning of the tally. “Parents who experienced being stripped of their human rights, the right to freedom of travel, equal treatment. So I can’t stand by and watch this attack on our freedom of speech and the right to boycott the racist policies of the government and the state of Israel. I love our country’s freedom of speech, Madam Speaker. Dissent is how we nurture democracy.”
There was no “attack on our freedom of speech.” H.Res 246 was an expression of opposition to, BDS. It is the members of BDS who consistently attack “our freedom of speech,” bullies who, after all, spend much of their time shouting down pro-Israel speakers. They are at present the foremost enemies of free speech in our country.
Here are a few of their exploits:
At the University of Virginia, “a group protesting — believed to include both students and nonstudents — entered the room and started shouting anti-Israel slogans through a megaphone, preventing the speakers from being heard. Video of the event obtained by the university showed that Rabbi Jake Rubin, executive director of Hillel at the university, asked those protesting to let the program go on and said they could ask questions of the panelists and otherwise engage in discussion with attendees. The protesting students refused to do so and continued to shout at the speakers, making it impossible for the event to proceed as planned. Police were called; they said they are investigating a reported assault that took place. When police arrived, the protesting group left, and the event resumed. “
At the University of California, “shouting down speakers — including defenders of Israel — didn’t start with the adoption of anti-normalization. But in the past such episodes were regarded as exceptional and scandalous violations of academic freedom. In one of the first of these episodes, in 2010, Michael Oren, a distinguished historian serving as Israel’s ambassador to the United States, tried to give a presentation at the University of California at Irvine, when pro-Palestinian students interrupted him with epithets and slogans. He was unable to utter more than a few portions of his remarks at a stretch, although he did ultimately finish the speech.”
“As a result [of the shouting down of Michael Oren], such incidents proliferated. In October 2015, former Israeli Supreme Court chief justice Aharon Barak, noted for his support of Palestinian rights, had his own UC-Irvine talk interrupted and curtailed. The following month the world-renowned Israeli philosopher and New York University faculty member Moshe Halbertal had a University of Minnesota lecture disrupted. In February, Israeli Arab Bassem Eid was relentlessly heckled by BDS activists at the University of Chicago, in April, they blocked Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat from speaking at San Francisco State University.”
BDS exists mainly to deny the freedom of speech to others. Its most visible function is to disrupt and ideally silence pro-Israel speakers at universities all across the country. Rashida Tlaib’s claim that to vote for a resolution condemning BDS, at present the foremost enemy of free speech in this country, constitutes an attempt to suppress “freedom of speech” is absurd, a piece of topsy-turvy Palestinian chutzpah.
Savor the victory of H.Res. 246. 398-17. But remember the names of those 17 who voted against the resolution, so that you can lend your support to their opponents in 2020. And let’s hope university administrators, whose performance so far has, with a few honorable exceptions, not exactly been edifying, will take note of H.Res.246, and as a result stiffen their resolve not to yield, the next time the BDS Brownshirts arrive on their campuses to shout down, and shut down, those speakers who have the temerity to defend Israel.
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