Free speech and human rights supporters are rallying behind Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar after a pro-Israeli government group attacked the representative-elect for announcing her support of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.
Omar—who along with Democrat Rashida Tlaib of Michigan became the first Muslim women elected to Congress—expressed her support for the movement to several websites this week prompting many to declare also #IStandWithIlhan on social media.
That's not the outcome likely hoped for by the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The group, which states that is mission is to "stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment to all" but is accused of promoting Islamophobia, said the support was "alarming." It said in its tweet that "BDS doesn't just criticize Israel's gov., it denies its right to exist as a Jewish State."
That claim is not true, as journalist Mehdi Hansan responded:
This is a lie. "The BDS movement... steers away from the one-state-versus-two-states debate, focusing instead on universal rights and international law". Most member orgs "still advocate a two-state solution outside the realm of the BDS movement" - BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti https://t.co/3cj8hEmAMM— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) November 15, 2018
Rebecca Vilkomerson, the executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, shot back at the ADL's tweet as well, calling it an "irresponsible use of @ADL_National's status as a civil rights org.," and praised Omar for being the first member of Congress to declare her support for BDS.
This is irresponsible use of @ADL_National’s status as a civil rights org. @IlhanMN supports human rights of Palestinians by supporting the nonviolent #BDS movement, an increasingly popular position in the Democratic base. It’s completely legit, so the ADL better get used to it! https://t.co/VderMHeoUt— Rebecca Vilkomerson (@RVilkomerson) November 15, 2018
Jewish Voice for Peace also applauded Omar for "helping usher in a new era when standing for justice and equality for all in Israel/Palestine—and thus for Palestinian rights and freedom—will be the norm and not exception."
The rising support for #BDS has finally reached Congress and we’re so grateful to @IlhanMN for being the first to proudly support the movement for Palestinian rights and freedom! pic.twitter.com/HQGMBa1IGz— Rebecca Vilkomerson (@RVilkomerson) November 15, 2018
#IStandWithIlhan because she's helping usher in a new era when standing for justice and equality for all in Israel/Palestine – and thus for Palestinian rights and freedom – will be the norm and not exception. (Many thanks to @Watan for original art) @IlhanMN pic.twitter.com/CGNqlyE4D6— JewishVoiceForPeace (@jvplive) November 15, 2018
For her part, Tlaib, whose family is from Palestine, offered her support for her fellow freshly-elected representative, and urged others to speak out in support of "protected freedom of speech."
My parents were both born in Palestine (Falastine). My sity still lives there. So when my sister @IlhanMN is being attacked for supporting the #BDS movement (protected freedom of speech!) we can't stay silent. Nothing is more American than the fight for justice at home & abroad. pic.twitter.com/rNhCQ77fLg— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) November 16, 2018
Other individuals and groups joined the hashtag #IStandWithIlhan, including anti-Israeli- occupation group IfNotNow, which pointed to a letter of support to let Omar know: "We stand with you in the face of Islamophobic organizations attempting to attack you and undermine your leadership."
As public opinion in the US (including the Jewish community) shifts away from uncritical support of Israeli occupation, our elected leaders can & should shift with us. @IlhanMN is supporting not only the human rights of Palestinians, but free speech on Israel #IStandWithIlhan— Rebecca Pierce (@aptly_engineerd) November 15, 2018
We stand with @IlhanMN from here in Florida. Ilhan believes and fights for the freedom, safety, and rights of oppressed people here and around the world. Leaders like her are more important than ever. We support Ilhan and we support #BDS. #IStandWithIlhan by @watanstudio pic.twitter.com/IkRx295EjH— Dream Defenders (@Dreamdefenders) November 15, 2018
Congresswoman-elect Ilhan Omar boldly supports BDS and justice for the Palestinian people. Now she’s under attack from the ADL, a Zionist organization with a long history of advancing Islamophobia, supporting apartheid, and undermining social justice movements. #IStandWithIlhan pic.twitter.com/vhS4s3YenD— Palestinian Rights (@US_Campaign) November 16, 2018
Join human rights activists across the country who are sharing why #IStandWithIlhan—so we can work together towards for freedom, justice, and equality for the Palestinian people in a world without racism and oppression.— Palestinian Rights (@US_Campaign) November 16, 2018
.@IlhanMN is a champion of many progressive causes, including Americans’ rights to protest using BDS. We support Ilhan in her fight to ensure those rights are not abridged. #IStandWithIlhan— IfNotNow (@IfNotNowOrg) November 16, 2018
Check out and sign @MPower_Change's letter of support here:https://t.co/092Wrwpds3