US congresswoman-elect Ilhan Omar has made history in more ways than one. And in a recent interview with Muslim Girl, Omar revealed her support for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Since then, she’s received overwhelming support. But she has also faced a backlash from right-wing and pro-Israel voices in the US.
On a personal note, Omar’s track record has continued to impress me. Rather than just being a tick-box for representation, her congressional win is looking like a genuine gain for progressive politics.
In particular, Omar’s stance makes her the first ever member of Congress to publicly support a boycott of Israel:
A HISTORIC FIRST! Newly-elected Congresswoman Ilhan Omar's campaign says this Democrat from Minnesota "believes in and supports the BDS movement [for Palestinian rights], and has fought to make sure people’s right to support it isn’t criminalized" https://t.co/PsL0J83LuB @IlhanMN pic.twitter.com/UTivIvfTsO
— BDS Movement (@BDSmovement) November 15, 2018
Voices on the right, however, weren’t happy:
This is alarming. BDS doesn't just criticize Israel's gov., it denies its right to exist as a Jewish State. @IlhanMN also said she supports a two-state solution. Rep-Elect Omar, you owe it to your new constituents to clarify your views https://t.co/KkTFFfuPu8
— ADL (@ADL_National) November 15, 2018
Minnesota Rep-elect Ilhan Omar backs boycotting and divesting in Jewish state in new interview: The Nazis called for the boycott Jewish-owned businesses. This was the direct antecedent to the BDS movement. This is no different. https://t.co/t27enQliAT pic.twitter.com/GtUQDrprCe
— Pamela Geller (@PamelaGeller) November 13, 2018
In response to their outrage, though, Omar received overwhelming support through the hashtag #IStandWithIlhan:
— HOODIE YUMMA 🇵🇸 (@Yumma3x) November 15, 2018
#IstandWithIlhan because BDS is not the ceiling for the Palestinian movement, it's the bare minimum. BDS is a moral obligation, not a strategy or a tactic, for any decent human being.
— Raja Abdulhaq (@Raja48) November 15, 2018
Many of Omar’s supporters pointed out that a boycott of Israel is not just a legitimate pressure tactic, but also a vital expression of the democratic freedom enshrined in the US constitution:
Boycotting is a bedrock of American civic life, inseparable from the Constitution’s guarantee of free speech and the wariness many feel whenever a law compels humans to violate their conscience. @IlhanMN is being attacked for supporting #BDS. #istandwithilhan pic.twitter.com/HK4wtzBGyu
— Ahmed Shihab-Eldin (@ASE) November 16, 2018
Boycotts are a constitutionally protected form of free speech and have a long history of being used successfully to address injustice and demand political change. #IStandwithIlhan
— Rasha MK (@RashaMK) November 15, 2018
I’m busy making sure we #CountEveryVote in Florida, but I had to come here and make sure I let y’all know #IStandWithIlhan because she’s also fighting to protect the foundations of our democracy! pic.twitter.com/BQf92DGXXD
— Sarah (@thebadri) November 15, 2018
Walking the walk
Omar has already proven herself as a political candidate. But more than that, as a Somali-American, a hijab-wearing Muslim woman, and a refugee, she’s an effective role model for many people. Citizens from disenfranchised backgrounds, for example, see a representation of themselves in her:
@IlhanMN is a role model. She speaks truth to power on all issues, including #Palestine. Her support of #BDS is further proof that she walks the walk too and does not suffice with talking about justice and human rights for all. #IStandWithIlhan https://t.co/HWgB2eojRK
— Nour Odeh (@nour_odeh) November 15, 2018
@IlhanMN is not only a politician but also a mentor to young people like me. She is an honest leader who cares about everyone no matter where they live. Human rights issues are big on her, and no matter how many attacks she receives from ADL, she won’t stop. #IstandWithIlhan pic.twitter.com/iUiShP5RZL
— Khalid A Mohamed (@Kalimohamed10) November 16, 2018
A petition for Americans to show support for the congresswoman-elect is also doing the rounds:
#IStandWithIlhan because she is courageous, bold, and committed to justice for all, not for some. I hope other Congresspeople will follow her lead. Sign on to the petition below to show your support!https://t.co/Fm811xDHYB
— Amira (@ameerawayo) November 16, 2018
As far as US politicians go, especially in recent years, Omar is unique in paving the way for revolutionary change. And many people are now desperately hoping (and expecting) for more good things to come.
– Tweet #IStandWithIlhan to support Ilhan Omar.
– Learn more about the BDS movement and see how you can show solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.
– Take action with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
– Support The Canary if you appreciate the work we do.
Featured image via Flickr/ Lorie Shaull
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