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READ: Israel BDS bill Chellie Pingree sided with Rep. Tlaib, Omar, AOC over Maine Delegation

Rep. Chellie Pingree speaks in a social media video with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The two voted along with Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Rep. Ilhan Omar and thirteen other members of Congress against a resolution to defend the State of Israel from destabilization.

WASHINGTON D.C. – When Rep. Chellie Pingree (D – Maine) voted against a House resolution that voiced opposition to a movement to delegitimize and potentially destabilize the State of Israel, the United States’ most steadfast ally in the Middle East, she broke with Maine’s tripartisan delegation, Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. Angus King and Rep. Jared Golden, in their support of Israel to do so.

One of only 17 members of the U.S. House to vote against the bill in a 398-17 vote in support, Pingree joined Rep. Rashida Tlaib; Rep. Ilhan Omar; Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a handful of other Representatives.

The vote triggered a column in the Jewish publication Tablet from Professor K.C. Johnson of Brooklyn College titled, “Forget the Squad, Politicians Like Chellie Pingree Represent the Real Threat to Israel.”  Rep. Pingree has since claimed that her vote against the resolution was based on “free speech concerns” according to the Bangor Daily News.

Part of the resolution related to the BDS movement, an effort by opponents of Israel to use Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions to incur economic harm on the state of Israel to achieve desired political outcomes. The Anti-Defamation League says the BDS movement “rejects Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state” and seeks to undermine Israel’s existence. The group has launched a campaign to educate the public and defeat the movement.

Nevertheless, Rep. Pingree joined a small group of the strongest supporters of BDS in the U.S. House to reject the resolution.

The BDS effort is also at the heart of the recent controversy between the Israeli government and Rep. Rashida Tlaib over her on again, off again trip to Israel.

Late last week Rep. Tlaib said she was trying to gain admittance to Israel to visit her 90-year old grandmother. The Israeli government approved that request, made in a letter from Rep. Tlaib, in which Tlaib said that she would not use the visit to promote boycotts and would respect the restrictions of Israel on her activity.

Shortly thereafter, Tlaib reneged on her promise and said she would not make the trip, calling the restrictions she had previously offered to comply with “oppressive” and invoking her self-described fight against racism, oppression and injustice as cause to reject Israel’s offer.

Without further ado, here is the actual language of the resolution Rep. Chellie Pingree rejected in siding with just sixteen other members of the U.S. House of Representatives:

H. Res. 246

In the House of Representatives, U. S.,

Whereas the democratic, Jewish State of Israel is a key ally and strategic partner of the United States;

Whereas since Israel’s founding in 1948, Congress has repeatedly expressed our Nation’s unwavering commitment to the security of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state;

Whereas it is a hallmark of American democracy for citizens to petition the United States Government in favor of or against United States foreign policy;

Whereas the United States Constitution protects the rights of United States citizens to articulate political views, including with respect to the policies of the United States or foreign governments;

Whereas American policy has long sought to bring peace to the Middle East and recognized that both the Israeli and Palestinian people should be able to live in safe and sovereign states, free from fear and violence, with mutual recognition;

Whereas support for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians has long-standing bipartisan support in Congress;

Whereas it is the long-standing policy of the United States that a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should come through direct negotiations between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, with the support of countries in the region and around the world;

Whereas cooperation between Israel and the United States is of great importance, especially in the context of rising anti-Semitism, authoritarianism and security problems in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa;

Whereas the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS Movement) targeting Israel is a campaign that does not favor a two-state solution and that seeks to exclude the State of Israel and the Israeli people from the economic, cultural, and academic life of the rest of the world;

Whereas the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement is one of several recent political movements that undermines the possibility for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by demanding concessions of one party alone and encouraging the Palestinians to reject negotiations in favor of international pressure;

Whereas the founder of the Global BDS Movement, Omar Barghouti, has denied the right of the Jewish people in their homeland, saying, “We oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.”;

Whereas the Global BDS Movement targets not only the Israeli government but also Israeli academic, cultural, and civil society institutions, as well as individual Israeli citizens of all political persuasions, religions, and ethnicities, and in some cases even Jews of other nationalities who support Israel;

Whereas the Global BDS Movement does not recognize, and many of its supporters explicitly deny, the right of the Jewish people to national self-determination;

Whereas university-based Global BDS efforts violate the core goals of the university and global cultural development, which thrive on free and open exchange and debate, and in some cases, leads to the intimidation and harassment of Jewish students and others who support Israel;

Whereas the Global BDS Movement promotes principles of collective guilt, mass punishment, and group isolation, which are destructive of prospects for progress towards peace and a two-state solution;

Whereas boycotts and similar tools aimed at promoting racial justice and social change have been used effectively in the United States, South Africa, and other parts of the world; and

Whereas in contrast to protest movements that have sought racial justice and social change, the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement targeting Israel is not about promoting coexistence, civil rights, and political reconciliation but about questioning and undermining the very legitimacy of the country and its people: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) opposes the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS Movement) targeting Israel, including efforts to target United States companies that are engaged in commercial activities that are legal under United States law, and all efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel;

(2) urges Israelis and Palestinians to return to direct negotiations as the only way to achieve an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict;

(3) affirms the Constitutional right of United States citizens to free speech, including the right to protest or criticize the policies of the United States or foreign governments;

(4) supports the full implementation of the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014 (Public Law 113–296; 128 Stat. 4075) and new efforts to enhance government-wide, coordinated United States-Israel scientific and technological cooperation in civilian areas, such as with respect to energy, water, agriculture, alternative fuel technology, civilian space technology, and security, in order to counter the effects of actions to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel; and (5) reaffirms its strong support for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in two states—a democratic Jewish State of Israel, and a viable, democratic Palestinian state—living side-by-side in peace, security, and mutual recognition.

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