Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan defended her support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel and said she would support a boycott of Muslim countries, like Saudi Arabia or Egypt.
Tlaib, who is Palestinian-American, said the movement is “pushing back against racist policies in Israel” during an interview Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper.
She used her grandmother, who lives in the West Bank, as an example of “someone right now under occupation [who] is feeling less than.”
Tlaib called economic boycott “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 [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s regime, human rights violations have gotten worse,” she said.
She is not singling out Israel, she said, because “if there was an economic boycott movement around Saudi Arabia, I would be the first to sign up for it.”
Tapper asked Tlaib twice if she believes Israel has a right to exist. “Look, I truly believe the State of Israel exists, correct,” she responded initially, adding, “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.”
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On the second try she responded: “Oh, of course. … 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.”