Somali-American congresswoman Ilhan Omar backs BDS amid facing anti-Semitism smear campaign

Somali-American congresswoman Ilhan Omar backs BDS amid facing anti-Semitism smear campaign
3 min read
13 November, 2018
Longtime supporter of Palestine Ilhan Omar has taken her passion to Congress and backed the BDS movement.
Ilhan Omar is the first Somali-American Congresswoman [Getty]

The first Somali-American congresswoman Ilhan Omar has backed the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement after a large attempt to smear her as an anti-Semite for her Palestine activism.

“Ilhan believes in and supports the BDS movement, and has fought to make sure people’s right to support it isn’t criminalised. She does however, have reservations on the effectiveness of the movement in accomplishing a lasting solution,” her office told Muslim Girl on Sunday.

This comes after months of being attacked online for her support for Palestine, with many trying to smear her as an anti-Semite.

In May, she publically defended herself against someone who called her a "a proud Jew hater" after finding a tweet of her praying for Gaza.

During an interview with Muslim Girl, she said her longstanding passion for Palestine, which she took with her to congress, is a matter of principle.

“For me, that particular issue really is about making sure that we are people who understand that there is oppression happening, and speak to that as you would for issues that are

safe.  I believe that it doesn’t really matter who you are, and where you live, and who has empowered you; no one has a right ever to transgress on other’s rights", she told Muslim Girl.  

"When I see the kind of weapons that are being used to 
fight kids who are throwing rocks, I think that’s injustice, and so that has propelled me to feel like I needed to say something.  I think when we are thinking about this particular region, it’s one that really needs true advocacy.  It needs people that are not afraid to speak truth."  

"It is a region that has power extremely lopsided. When we are given an opportunity to look at the world, and dream of a place where people are treated equally, and people are allowed the opportunity for self-determination, we cannot dream of that world without having this particular region in mind”, she added.

Omar, along with Palestinian congresswoman Rashida Tlaib were both elected as the first two Muslim congresswomen last week during the US midterm elections.

The nonviolent BDS movement says it is inspired by the campaign that targeted South Africa's apartheid regime and is seeking an end to Israel's brutal occupation of the West Bank.

Israel sees BDS as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism – a claim activists firmly deny, calling it an attempt to discredit them.

But the movement, which adheres to peaceful resistance, aims to pressure Israel to adhere to international law and human rights by lobbying various states, institutions and personas to understand its oppression of Palestinians and take action as a result.

BDS operates by pressuring corporations, artists and academic institutions to sever ties with Israel with supporters saying activities are aimed at promoting a Palestinian statehood.

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