DC Mayor Condemns BDS Movement, But Strives for DC Statehood
Political cartoon by Arab American Contributing Artist Katie Miranda
BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Staff Writer
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) issued a letter this summer called “Governors United Against BDS” to all 50 state governors, as well as Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. The mayor joined 16 other signatories to the letter, which condemns the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement.
The letter states that the “goals of the BDS Movement are antithetical” to the signatory’s personal and state values. It also declared that the BDS Movement “would undermine peacemaking by suggesting that economic and political pressure on Israel can replace real negotiation.”
For decades, negotiations have failed between Israelis and Palestinians. The only peaceful resolutions achieved between the two parties – Oslo I Accord and Oslo II Accord – were violated almost instantaneously.
Boycotts, divestments, and sanctions are long-standing and respectable strategies used to achieve justice throughout history, unlike the failed Oslo negotiations. Divestment and sanctions on apartheid South Africa ended the country’s state-sanctioned racism. Boycotts of businesses and public transportation enabled the Civil Rights Act of 1964, outlawing discrimination based on race, religion, sex, or national origin. After 14 years of the brutal Liberian civil war, Leymah Gbowee rallied women to enforce a sex strike, which lead to an end to the violence. Boycotts, divestments, and sanctions are proven, nonviolent methods to fighting injustice.
Mayor Bowser (D), who is up for re-election in November, is aware of the powerful impact of divestment because she has used it during her time in office. In June of 2016, the lobbying group, DC Divest, successfully saw the DC City Council divest $6.4 billion from the city’s pension fund to address climate change.
Yet only two months later, Bowser signed an AJC letter that said she personally believes that divestment is not a valuable strategy.
Bowser’s personal views also come into conflict with this letter because she is campaigning for re-election on the premise of DC Statehood. During the Democratic National Convention, Bowser pushed vehemently for the party to support her bid to make Washington, DC the 51st state of America.
Members of Congress and celebrities have rallied behind Bowser, who hopes to see DC become a state if Clinton wins the election in November.
But the idea of statehood stops in the district with Mayor Bowser. Although the BDS Movement wants to see the creation of a Palestinian state, Bowser has condemned any efforts to give a stateless people representation and sound governance.
License plates in Washington, DC say “Taxation Without Representation” for a reason: the DC Representative in Congress cannot vote. Palestinians are represented at the United Nations, but are not allowed to vote.
Washington, DC cannot spend its local tax dollars on local issues without Congressional involvement. Israel and the U.S. financially punish Palestinians if their budget is used for a program they don’t approve.
Washington, DC and the Palestinians suffer from the same lack of autonomy. It seems Muriel Bowser is confused about her “personal and state values.” Condemning a peaceful movement for Palestinian statehood shows a clear double standard in whom the mayor believes is worthy of having a state.