As Israel destroys Palestinian homes, Congress demonizes a non-violent boycott

Posted on Jul 27, 2019

“BDS holds Israel accountable – unlike the White House or Congress”

(New York City, NY) July 23, 2019: Yesterday, Israeli troops demolished Palestinian homes in the village of Sur Baher in violation of international law, claiming that they were too close to Israel’s Apartheid Wall – even though Israel had built the Apartheid Wall through the middle of that village. Today, rather than condemn the Israeli government for further obstructing the path to peace, the House of Representatives voted (398-17) in favor of a resolution which condemns the non-violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) for Palestinian rights and freedom.

The message is loud and clear: Most Representatives are not only unwilling to hold Israel accountable for its repeated violations of Palestinian human rights, but are actively taking steps to demonize and ostracize human rights advocates working to make non-violent change.

Rebecca Vilkomerson, Executive Director, Jewish Voice for Peace: “Right now, Israel is breaking international law and demolishing Palestinian homes. 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 – unlike the White House or Congress.”

House Resolution 246, while ultimately toothless, continues a dangerous trend of censuring criticism of the actions of the Israeli government. Initiated by over 60 Palestinian civil society groups, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement is a non-violent, international effort to pressure the Israeli government to comply with international law by ending the occupation, granting full equality to the Palestinian citizens of Israel and guarenteeing the right of return of Palestinian refugees. Yet 27 states have passed anti-BDS legislation, despite successive court cases determining such legislation to be in violation of the First Amendment. HR 246 will undoubtedly encourage further attempts to criminalize the defense of Palestinian human rights.

The resolution is also, however, indicative of the growing popularity of BDS and boycott movements in general by young people and progressives. Boycotts are ultimately an accountability tool, and progressives from all walks of life increasingly believe that the state of Israel must be held accountable for its violations of Palestinian human rights. Jewish Voice for Peace particularly commends the brave leadership demonstrated by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan for their unwavering leadership and commitment to freedom, justice and equality.

Stefanie Fox, Deputy Director, Jewish Voice for Peace: “This Resolution shows clearly who in the House of Representatives is truly progressive. We applaud the brave Representatives who defend the non-violent boycott movement and human rights advocates. 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.”

Jewish Voice for Peace is a national, grassroots organization inspired by Jewish tradition to work for a just and lasting peace according to principles of human rights, equality, and international law for all the people of Israel and Palestine. JVP has over 500,000 online supporters, over 70 chapters and 15 campus chapters, a Rabbinic Council, an Artist Council, an Academic Advisory Council, and an Advisory Board made up of leading U.S. intellectuals and artists.