The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel deplores Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley’s vote in favor of H.Res. 246, which condemns the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement seeking to hold Israel accountable for its numerous violations of international law and the human rights of the Palestinian people. We are particularly disturbed that a woman of color professing progressive anti-racist values would break ranks with her progressive colleagues and vote against a grassroots movement for justice, modelled upon the boycotts that helped end segregation in the US and South Africa.
On her website, Pressley has written: “My approach to foreign policy is grounded in the same values that inform my domestic priorities – empathy, inclusiveness, and a belief that the solutions to our most important challenges should be informed by the people most impacted. The people closest to the pain, should be closest to the power, driving and informing the policy making.” Yet she clearly is listening to the oppressor, rather than those close to the pain, when she votes against BDS, even as Israel has dropped the pretense of democracy by adopting the Nation State law privileging its Jewish citizens, and is engaging in an ongoing ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian people, who continue to lose their land, homes, and livelihoods, indeed, their very lives, in Israel’s drive to expand the undemocratic Jewish state.
While governments and politicians continue to give Israel immunity, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement is growing. In the past thirteen years, there have been more than 250 BDS victories in North American alone https://uscpr.org/campaign/bds/bdswins/ Globally, the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement has forced corporate conglomerates like G4S and Veolia to divest some or all of their holdings in Occupied Palestine. In some countries, like Ireland, entire towns and cities have endorsed BDS.
Congresswoman Pressley, you write on your website that “Activism is no longer an option, but is the expectation of our generation.” As progressives, we tell you that a Palestine exception is no longer an “option” for progressives, instead, Palestine must be understood as emblematic of the anti-racist struggle, for justice, self-determination, and indigenous sovereignty.
The days are past when being a “progressive” in America included support for Israel. Today, real anti-racism and anti-racist commitment must include support for Palestinian self-determination. USACBI vows to apply this standard to any and all candidates who run for office. Congresswoman Pressley has failed this test.
Image: Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) speaks while Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) listen during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 15, 2019.