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Israel’s Snub of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib Is a Gift for the BDS Movement

Israel’s Snub of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib Is a Gift for the BDS MovementTom Williams/CQ Roll Call/GettyWhen the government of Israel blocked Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) from entering the country over their support of a movement to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel, it may have been a public blow to the two lawmakers—but a gift for the BDS movement. The activists who support the controversial strategy to isolate the Jewish state quickly seized on the move as proof that the Israeli government is fearful their movement is gathering steam. They also held it up as further proof for their argument that Israel is a discriminatory state with undemocratic tendencies—one that just bowed to pressure from President Trump, who has openly waged war on the recently elected congresswomen.This week could prove to be a defining juncture for BDS and the broader protest movement against Israel, said Stefanie Fox, deputy director of Jewish Voice for Peace, a Jewish-American advocacy group that favors BDS. “This is a moment that is an opportunity and an obligation to see with clear eyes what is and has been happening to Palestinians for many decades,” she told The Daily Beast.The fact that the support of two members of Congress for BDS sparked this controversy is seen as a sign of how far the movement has come. For the first time, it has vocal, high-profile advocates in federal office who are eager to challenge Capitol Hill’s long-standing, unequivocal support for the state of Israel. “It’s quite remarkable,” said Fox, “to see the wave cresting.” Among the vast majority of lawmakers, however, BDS is and has long been considered an unacceptable, fringe idea. Just last month, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a symbolic resolution opposing BDS—just 17 members voted against it. But a range of stakeholders in the debate over Israel policy are increasingly concerned that, despite its broad lack of support, BDS could become a focal point for a breakdown of U.S.-Israel ties in the wake of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s move to ban the congresswomen from Israel. “The only people to gain through this campaign against the BDS movement are the BDS activists themselves,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the advocacy group J Street, which shares the goal of changing the U.S.-Israel status quo but opposes BDS.“The more you fight them and elevate their status into an existential threat to the state, the more they become a compelling outlet for people’s unhappiness over what’s going on in the West Bank,” he told The Daily Beast on Friday. Israel, he said, “played right into the hands of their critics.”BDS began in 2005, launched by Palestinian activists seeking to emulate the international pressure campaign against apartheid-era South Africa in order to force Israel to grant further human rights protections to Palestinians and to withdraw from their territories in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. Since then, BDS has failed to garner popular support in the U.S., and has been mostly relegated to the most left-wing corners of the Israel protest movement. It’s been called inherently anti-Semitic by its critics and by the Anti-Defamation League, a leading watchdog group. It does not explicitly advocate for a one or two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, prompting many of its detractors to argue BDS favors the destruction of the Jewish state.Both lawmakers’ embraces of BDS have been marked by public backtracking and inconsistencies. Omar only clearly expressed support for the movement after her election to Congress in the 2018 midterm, seemingly going back on a claim she made in a Democratic primary debate that BDS was “not helpful in getting that two-state solution.” Tlaib made a similar reversal: in the lead-up to her competitive 2018 election, she earned J Street’s endorsement by affirming support for a two-state solution and current levels of aid to Israel. After she won, Tlaib said in an interview “this whole idea of a two-state solution, it doesn’t work.” The offices of Omar and Tlaib did not return comment for this story.The Israeli state has, since 2017, banned foreign supporters of BDS from entering the country. It’s the main reason authorities there gave for blocking Omar and Tlaib—even though some Israeli officials had been telling U.S. counterparts the two would be allowed to enter—and it’s also what American defenders of Israel have pointed to in justifying the move.Indeed, Omar and Tlaib’s support for BDS has provided political fodder for the Republicans and Democrats who have sustained the unequivocal support for Israel advocated by influential groups like the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC. Democrats Unite After Bibi Blocks Squad MembersThe GOP in particular has been eager to use Omar and Tlaib’s support of BDS as evidence that Democrats are condoning extremism in their ranks and undermining the U.S.-Israel relationship. The July vote in the House to condemn BDS came after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) successfully pushed anti-BDS legislation through the Senate and quickly raised questions over why House Democrats didn’t immediately embrace it. A House Republican leadership aide confirmed to The Daily Beast that they intend to keep BDS front-and-center on Capitol Hill when lawmakers return from the August recess. House Democrats are already bracing for that move. “I don’t think BDS, with respect to Congress, is a real movement at all,” said a Democratic aide. “But BDS has been used as a strawman by the Republicans, and by strong, pro-Israel Democrats, to create a threat that doesn’t really exist.”Some Democrats are predicting that this week’s BDS-sparked firestorm will lead to lasting fissures in the pro-Israel consensus on the Hill, particularly among Democrats. “Now we’re going to see in the weeks leading up to the [Israeli] election, as the rhetoric increases, it’s going to be increasingly difficult for Democrats to have this blank check mentality in support of the Israeli government,” said the Democratic aide. “It’s going to be a real issue on the [U.S.] presidential campaign.”Some Democratic supporters of Israel in Congress, meanwhile, are angrier at Netanyahu and his government for amplifying Omar and Tlaib’s criticisms of Israel, which they disagree with. Two Democratic lawmakers, Reps. Dean Phillips (D-MN) and Ro Khanna (D-CA), told The Daily Beast on Friday that their colleagues’ protest of Israel has been given a greater platform and lots of oxygen thanks to the week’s controversy.“I think time will prove that it was a decision that will ultimately be to the detriment of Israel’s reputation around the world,” said Phillips, “and has certainly compromised one of the most important relationships with an ally that the U.S. has with anybody in the world.”Why Trump’s Vile Plan to Rope Israel Into His War With the Squad Will BackfireRead more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

POSTED AUGUST 18, 2019 4:58 AM

Iranian tanker caught in a standoff with the West heads to Greece, shipping data shows

Iranian tanker caught in a standoff with the West heads to Greece, shipping data showsThe Iranian tanker caught in a standoff between Tehran and the West was sailing to Greece on Monday after leaving Gibraltar, shipping data showed, hours after the British territory rejected a U.S. request to detain the vessel further. British Royal Marines seized the tanker near Gibraltar in July on suspicion it was carrying oil to Syria, a close ally of Iran, in violation of European Union sanctions. The Grace 1, renamed the Adrian Darya 1, left anchorage off Gibraltar around 11 p.m. (2100 GMT).

POSTED AUGUST 19, 2019 1:35 AM

John Hickenlooper is out of the 2020 presidential race. That's good news for these 3 Democratic candidates

John Hickenlooper is out of the 2020 presidential race. That's good news for these 3 Democratic candidatesFormer Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper's exit from presidential race means other candidates have an opportunity to win over his supporters.

POSTED AUGUST 18, 2019 10:31 AM

Thailand's lost baby dugong dies from shock, eating plastic

Thailand's lost baby dugong dies from shock, eating plasticAn 8-month-old dugong nurtured by marine experts after it was found lost near a beach in southern Thailand has died of what biologists believe was a combination of shock and ingesting plastic waste, officials said Saturday. The female dugong — a large ocean mammal — was named "Marium" and became a hit in Thailand after images of biologists embracing and feeding her with milk and seagrass spread across social media. Veterinarians and volunteers had set out in canoes to feed Marium up to 15 times a day while also giving her health checks.

POSTED AUGUST 17, 2019 6:59 AM

Days away from moving for a dream job, Miami doctor is killed in fall from cliff on vacation

Days away from moving for a dream job, Miami doctor is killed in fall from cliff on vacationDaniel Sirovich was a native of Kearny, NJ, who loved traveling and was interested in sports and international medicine.

POSTED AUGUST 18, 2019 6:57 PM

French hiker missing in Italy nine days found dead

French hiker missing in Italy nine days found deadThe body of a French hiker who disappeared nine days ago south of Naples was found Sunday, local Italian authorities said. "The body of Simon Gautier has been found a short while ago," the authorities in Sapri, near Belvedere di Ciolandre where the 27-year-old hiker was found dead. Gautier called for help on August 9, saying he had fallen down a cliff and broken both legs, but was unable to give his location other than "in the middle of nowhere, on the coast".

POSTED AUGUST 18, 2019 5:58 PM

Jihadi Jack: Isis fighter stripped of British citizenship by Home Office

Jihadi Jack: Isis fighter stripped of British citizenship by Home OfficeThe Isis fighter known as Jihadi Jack has been stripped of his British citizenship, prompting a diplomatic row between the UK and Canada, it has been reported.  Muslim convert Jack Letts, 24, who had held dual UK and Canadian citizenship, declared he was an "enemy of Britain" after travelling from Oxfordshire to Syria at the age of 18 to join the terror group. He has begged to be allowed to return to the UK, insisting he had "no intention" of killing Britons, after he was captured by Kurdish forces in 2017.  The Home Office has now stripped Letts of British citizenship, meaning he is the responsibility of the Canadian government, The Mail on Sunday said. It was reportedly one of the last actions of Theresa May’s administration. Isil Rise and fall of a caliphate The decision is understood to have angered officials in Ottawa, prompting fears of a row between Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and Boris Johnson when they meet at the G7 summit in France next weekend. Letts, who travelled to the Middle East in 2014, is now among more than 120 dual nationals who have been stripped of their British citizenship since 2016, including Isis bride Shamima Begum. Ms Begum was one of three girls from Bethnal Green, east London, who left the UK aged just 15 in February 2015 and travelled to Syria to join Islamic State. It was thought Ms Begum may have a claim in Bangladesh because of her family background, something Bangladeshi officials denied. The move can only be made against people with two passports, because international law prevents the Government from making anyone "stateless".  John Letts and Sally Lane, the parents of a Muslim convert dubbed Jihadi Jack Credit: PA It will come as a blow to Lett's parents, Sally Lane and John Letts, who were found guilty at the Old Bailey in June of funding terrorism and given 12-month sentences suspended for 15 months. In an interview after their conviction, they said: "Jack is still a British citizen and we have pleaded with the Government to help us to bring him to safety, even if that meant that he might be prosecuted in the UK." A Home Office spokesman said: "This power is one way we can counter the terrorist threat posed by some of the most dangerous individuals and keep our country safe." In an interview with ITV earlier this year, Letts said he felt British and that he wanted to return to the UK, but admitted he did not think that would be likely. "I'm not going to say I'm innocent. I'm not innocent. I deserve what comes to me. But I just want it to be... appropriate... not just haphazard, freestyle punishment in Syria," he told the broadcaster. Struggling with obsessive compulsive disorder and Tourette's when he was at school, Jack converted to Islam at the age of 16. He used to attend the Bengali mosque in Cowley Road, Oxford, before he came into contact with men with a more radical ideology. Jack has previously admitted he was at one time prepared to carry out a suicide attack, telling the BBC: "I used to want to at one point, believe it or not. Not a vest. I wanted to do it in a car. I said if there's a chance, I will do it." He also said in the interview, which took place in October last year but was not broadcast until after his parents' trial had ended, that he realised he had been "an enemy of Britain" but added that he had made "a big mistake".

POSTED AUGUST 17, 2019 8:00 PM

Roller coaster malfunction causes cars to collide; multiple kids taken to hospital

Roller coaster malfunction causes cars to collide; multiple kids taken to hospitalFive people were taken to the hospital Friday night after malfunctioning roller coaster failed to stop in Ocean City, Maryland.

POSTED AUGUST 17, 2019 11:08 AM

Dick Cheney to appear at Trump 2020 fundraiser as Republican establishment bows to president

Dick Cheney to appear at Trump 2020 fundraiser as Republican establishment bows to presidentFormer vice president Dick Cheney will appear at a fundraiser for Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign, according to an invitation for the event, in a sign that the Republican establishment will publicly back his re-election bid.Mr Trump won the Republican nomination in 2016 as an outsider and has often clashed with senior figures in the party, such as Mitt Romney and the late John McCain.However, an invitation to a luncheon fundraiser in Jackson, Wyoming, shows Mr Cheney will appear alongside Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, according to The Washington Post.He will attend the event with his daughter Liz Cheney, who is a Republican congresswoman for Wyoming, for the fundraising group “Trump Victory”.Mr Cheney, who was George W Bush‘s vice president, previously said Mr Trump’s 2015 call for a “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” went “against everything [America] stands for and believes in”.Earlier this year, Mr Cheney also clashed with Mike Pence, the current vice president, over the administration’s foreign policy, criticising Mr Trump’s hard-line approach towards US allies in Nato.The invitation reportedly does not list the official titles of Mr Mulvaney, Ms Trump or Mr Kushner and insists that “their participation in the event is not a solicitation of funds”.Officials for the Trump campaign confirmed the event but would not say how much tickets would cost.Trump Victory has been known to charge up to six-figure amounts for tickets to its events.“Representative Cheney is honoured to be co-hosting this event and working hard to support President Trump’s re-election,” a spokesperson for Ms Cheney said in a statement. “The president’s policies are benefiting Wyoming and the nation.”The structure of the Trump Victory committee, which raises funds for both the Trump 2020 campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC), has shown how the president has been accepted into the Republican Party’s mainstream.By merging his re-election campaign with the national party, Mr Trump has become less vulnerable to an Republican opponent challenging him in the 2020 primary.However, linking the RNC to Mr Trump’s divisive presidency may be risky in the long-term for the Republican Party.In recent weeks, billionaire Stephen Ross has faced calls for a boycott of his Equinox luxury fitness company over his plans to hold a fundraiser for Mr Trump in the Hamptons.Additional reporting by agencies

POSTED AUGUST 18, 2019 1:11 PM

Mexico City assesses monument damage after anti-rape march

Mexico City assesses monument damage after anti-rape marchWorkers erected a wooden wall around Mexico City's iconic Angel of Independence monument Saturday after feminists defaced it with graffiti during a raucous protest over a string of alleged rapes by police. The deputy director of artistic patrimony at the National Fine Arts Institute, Dolores Martínez, said at the base of the statue that officials were assessing the damage to the Angel and other points in the capital that protesters attacked. Protesters wrote phrases like "They don't take care of us" and "rape state" in lime green, purple and black spray paint across the base of the Angel monument, which commemorates Mexico's independence from Spain and is often the site of celebrations by city residents.

POSTED AUGUST 18, 2019 3:47 PM

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