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PARAMUS – Democrats in Washington probably don’t need an internal battle over Israel, but it’s possible they may get one.
The House Tuesday night is scheduled to vote on a resolution opposing a global boycott of Israel. Known as the BDS movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions, its goal is to pressure Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians. The resolution is opposed by some, including Rep. Ilhan Omar, the Minnesota Democrat who most recently was advised by the president to leave the country. She has introduced a resolution of her own aimed at protecting the rights of Americans to take part in boycotts.
Omar’s position may seem a legitimate political stance to some, but many supporters of Israel – and the anti-BDS resolution – consider the boycott movement driven by reflexive anti-Semitism more than anything else.
A recent increase throughout the country, New Jersey included, of anti-Semitic acts exacerbates that sentiment.
And on Tuesday morning, it brought Rep. Josh Gottheimer and others to the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey to rally in support of the resolution opposing the boycott.
The Democratic congressman from the Fifth District was joined by Elan Carr, the U.S. Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism, and others.
In a Facebook post accompanying the press conference, Gottheimer said, “We are standing together in the fight against anti-Semitism and opposing the BDS movement. ”
Speaking at the press conference, Gottheimer decried increasing anti-Semitism all over the world, noting the rise of far right political parties in Europe. Closer to home, other speakers spoke of swastikas being painted on local school property.
The congressman said society should never accept hate or bigotry of any kind.
On a more global level, he also worried that the BDS movement could further hurt the peace process in the Middle East, given the measure’s tilt to the Palestinian side.
The anti-BDS resolution is certainly expected to pass, given the fact it has drawn support from a majority of Democrats and almost all Republicans in the House.
But things still could be interesting. Georgia Rep. John Lewis, an icon of the civil rights movement. is a co-sponsor of Omar’s resolution affirming the right to take part in boycotts. That’s an understandable position for a veteran of the American civil rights movement.
But Lewis is also a co-sponsor of the measure opposing BDS.
That’s a pretty clever way to have things both ways. A wise old owl, that Lewis.