Ilhan Omar’s Pro-Boycott Resolution Distorts the Meaning of the First Amendment

July 22 2019

Last week, Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, both known for spouting the vilest accusations against Israel and its American Jewish supporters, co-sponsored a resolution affirming “that all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad, as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.” The text makes no explicit mention of the Jewish state, but Omar made clear in an interview what was already evident amidst all its rhetoric about free speech and American traditions: namely, that the resolution is intended to protect the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (BDS). David French explains that the resolution rests on a fundamental misunderstanding of American law:

Individual anti-Semites have just as much a constitutional right to boycott Israeli products as individual racists have a constitutional right to refuse to patronize black-owned businesses. The fact that the Constitution protects such conduct doesn’t render it any less repugnant. . . . Supporters of BDS, however, must reckon with some inconvenient facts and some rather important laws.

[In 2014, for instance], I co-authored [a] letter . . . to Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California system, warning her that if the student-employee union voted to join the BDS movement, the University of California system risked serious violations of federal law, state law, and its own nondiscrimination policies. How? “The consequences of any boycott would be grave for Israelis working and studying alongside [union] members, subjecting them to scrutiny, reprisals, and retaliation merely because of their national origin or the national origin of their sponsors or affiliates.”

[Indeed an] analogy to white supremacists holds up quite well. Yes, you have a right to join the tiki-torch brigade and march to your heart’s content. You have a right not to watch professional sports because most of the athletes are non-white. But the instant you form or join a public accommodation—or the instant you join an arm of the state—your discrimination becomes unlawful.

The bottom line here is clear: when Ilhan Omar supports BDS, she shouldn’t be permitted to wrap herself in the American flag. The Constitution grants her the same rights it grants all other bigots, but for the movement to mean anything it has to violate the law, including the very non-discrimination statutes that were designed to lead the United States out of its Jim Crow past.

Welcome to Mosaic

Register now to get two more stories free

Register Now

Already a subscriber? Sign in now

Read more at National Review

More about: Anti-Semitism, BDS, First Amendment, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, U.S. Politics


The Palestinian Authority Deliberately Provoked Sunday’s Jerusalem Riots

Aug. 16 2019

On Sunday, Tisha b’Av—the traditional day of mourning for the destruction of the two Jerusalem Temples—coincided with the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. While the Israeli government had initially banned Jews from the Temple Mount on that day, it later reversed its decision and allowed a few dozen to visit. Muslim worshippers greeted them by throwing chairs and stones, and police had to quell the riot by force. Just yesterday, an Israeli policeman was stabbed nearby. Maurice Hirsch and Itamar Marcus place the blame for Sunday’s violence squarely on the shoulders of the Palestinian Authority:

Sign up to read more

You've read all your free articles for this month


Sign up now for unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Palestinian Media Watch

More about: Palestinian Authority, Temple Mount, Tisha b'Av