New Hampshire’s congressional Democrats voted to kill an anti-BDS bill in the House on Wednesday, part of a pattern of taking positions embraced by anti-Israel and even openly anti-Semitic activists.
The BDS– or Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions — movement is an effort backed by a coalition of opponents of America’s policy towards Israel and openly anti-Semitic activists designed to pressure public officials and private organizations to stop engaging with the Jewish state. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the BDS movement “rejects Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, [and] is the most prominent effort to undermine Israel’s existence.”
Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas both voted to kill consideration of an anti-BDS bill proposed by New York Republican Lee Zeldin. According to Zeldin, the bill would “prohibit boycotts or requests for boycotts imposed by international governmental organizations against Israel,” like the United Nations Human Rights Council and the European Union. The bill would also “establish Congress’s opposition to the BDS movement.”
“We have witnessed the rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel hate throughout the world, in our nation, on college campuses and within the halls of Congress under the guise of the BDS movement, and whether this bigotry is brazen or it’s blatant anti-Semitism deceptively called ‘legitimate’ we must crush it wherever it exists,” Zeldin said.
Kuster and Pappas apparently did not agree, joining their fellow Democrats in voting to table the measure. Both Democrats refuse to answer questions from NHJournal about their vote on the BDS issue or the presence of anti-Semites like Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) at NH Democratic Party events.
Kuster is a close ally of both Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), two Democrats who have been called out for anti-Semitic statements in the past. When Omar’s references to Jews as “all about the Benjamins” and other bigoted statements inspired a resolution to condemn anti-Semitism, neither NH Democrat would publicly endorse it. Instead, they supported Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to abandon the resolution in favor of a watered-down condemnation of hatred in general — a move condemned by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Members of New Hampshire’s Jewish community have expressed disappointment over local Democrats’ refusals to condemn anti-Semitism and instead embrace openly anti-Israel politicians like Omar.
“I sent letters to the senators [Shaheen and Hassan] because I kept receiving solicitations from them,” Rabbi Boaz D. Heilman of Temple B’nai Israel in Laconia, N.H. told NHJournal during the debate over the anti-Semitism resolution. “I expressed my view to them that ‘I don’t hear anything from you. I hear silence from you. I don’t hear any clear and overt protest against anti-Semitism.’
“I did not get any response to that,” Rabbi Heilman said.
And when Omar headlined a New Hampshire Democratic Party campaign event in December, Rep. Judy Aron (R-Sullivan 7), a Jewish member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, publicly objected. “By bringing noted anti-Semite and opponent of Israel Rep. Ilhan Omar to New Hampshire, Democrats are showing how anti-Israel the modern Democrat base is.”