Tlaib: BDS About Criticizing "Racist Policies" Of Israel; Israel "Exists" To "Detriment" Of Palestinians

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Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) explains why she believes the BDS movement is not anti-Semitic and how Israel "exists" to the "detriment" of Palestinians.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN's 'STATE OF THE UNION' HOST:  So you talk about the hate agenda.  And you know you have heard there's -- there have been criticisms of you from even your fellow Democrats, especially for your support for the BDS movement, which stands for boycott, divest, sanction.
 
It's an anti-Israel movement, or it's...
 
(CROSSTALK)
 
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI):  No, it's anti -- it's criticizing the racist policies of Israel.  And it's a boycott, right?  
 
I mean, I think folks don't know, when you say BDS -- especially in around the country, when you say BDS, they don't -- they know not sure what it means.  
 
TAPPER:  Boycott, divest, sanction.  
 
TLAIB:  Yes.  
 
TAPPER:  I want to get your reaction to something that Senator Schumer said about BDS, which is a movement you support.  
 
TLAIB:  Yes.  
 
TAPPER:  He said -- quote -- "When there is such a double standard, when the world treats everybody one way and the Jew or the Jewish state another way, there's only one word for it, anti-Semitism.  Let us call out the BDS movement for what it is."
 
And I think one of the questions that Senator Schumer and other supporters of Israel might have is, why focus on just Israel?  Why not also call for sanctions against other countries where you might have issues, such as Egypt or Pakistan or Saudi Arabia?  
 
TLAIB:  Oh, absolutely.  
 
And I think, if there was an economic boycott movement around Saudi Arabia, I will be the first to sign up for it.  
 
I can tell you, they're -- all around college campuses, there are Jews, Muslims, Hindus, all different kinds of backgrounds who are pushing back against racist policies in Israel, because they see that -- the human rights violations of children being detained, the fact that my grandmother, who lives in the West Bank right now, does not have equality, she doesn't have freedom of travel.  
 
She is someone that right now, under occupation, is feeling less than.
 
And I grew up in the most blackest, beautiful in the country, where every corner in Detroit here, you will see a reminiscence of the civil rights movement, of the labor rights movement.  And we did it through economic boycott.  It is a form of freedom of speech.
 
But people want to dismiss it because they're trying to say it's anti-Semitism.  That's the way they're trying to discredit the fact that we all know, under Netanyahu's regime, human rights violations have gotten worse.  And we need to be able to...
 
TAPPER:  Well, why not -- why not boycott Egypt?  They have human rights...
 
TLAIB:  Oh, I would boycott Egypt, of course.  I'm very critical.
 
TAPPER:  But you keep saying you would -- you would boycott Saudi Arabia, you would boycott Egypt, but you're not.
 
TLAIB:  Oh, let me tell you, but there -- right now, there is not a bill or resolution the floor that is saying, stop boycotting Egypt.  
 
TAPPER:  But you could invite one.
 
TLAIB:  Of course.
 
And I would absolutely oppose any sort of oppression of freedom of speech, of First Amendment right in this country.  It's a slippery slope, Jake, because, tomorrow, if folks want to protest -- boycott Saudi Arabia, and there's a movement, and it's got a name, they're going to go ahead and pass a resolution saying, you don't have freedom of speech, you don't have a right to First Amendment?
 
You can't be double standard.  But, of course I would oppose any kind of oppression of that sort of freedom -- of dismissing somebody's right, First Amendment right.  
 
And we have cases around the country from teachers who don't even know what's going on Israel who do not feel like they should wipe away their First Amendment right to be able to speak out through economic boycott.  

TAPPER:  I know you want to talk about Michigan, so just last question on this.  
 
Do you think the Jewish people have the right to a state in the area where Israel exists now?  
 
TLAIB:  Look, I truly believe the state of Israel exists, correct.  
 
But, understand, does it exist in the detriment of inequality for the Palestinian people, detriment of not really moving forward in a peaceful resolution?  We're never going to have peace, I truly believe, if separate but equal is the way they want to go.  
 
And I can tell you, I learned that from my African-American teachers in Detroit public schools, who showed me what the pain of oppression looks like.  We're not going to have peace if we don't understand that we are dehumanizing Palestinians every single day when we choose Israel over their rights.
 
TAPPER:  But, yes or no, does Israel have a right to exist?
 
TLAIB:  Oh, of course.
 
TAPPER:  OK.  
 
TLAIB:  But just like Palestinians have a right to exist.  Palestinians also have a right to human rights.  
 
We can't say one or the other.  We have to say it in the same breath, or we're not going to actually have a peaceful resolution. 



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