Tlaib Suggests Boycotting Bill Maher’s Show After He Criticized Anti-Israel Movement

August 18, 2019 Updated: August 18, 2019

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) suggested on Aug. 17 that viewers should boycott Bill Maher’s HBO show after the comedian criticized an international movement aimed at ending support for Israel.

During his program Real-Time on Aug. 16, Maher called the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement—which aims to cut off economic support for Israel—a “[expletive] purity test by people who want to appear woke but actually slept through history class.”

“It’s predicated on this notion, I think it’s very shallow thinking that the Jews in Israel, mostly white, and the Palestinians are brown, so they must be innocent and correct, and the Jews must be wrong,” he continued. “As if the occupation came right out of the blue, that this completely peaceful people found themselves occupied.”

“Forget about the intifadas and the suicide bombings and the rockets and how many wars,” he added.

Later in the program, Maher said he understands why Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Tlaib are not getting a “heroes welcome,” while pointing out a list of Omar’s comments that have been criticized as anti-Semitic.

“Congresswoman Omar has said things like ‘It’s all about the Benjamins,’ ‘Israel has hypnotized the world,’ ‘May Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel,'” Maher said.

“She apologized for it, but it’s out there: Jews control the world, control the money,” he said. “I can see why [Omar and Tlaib] don’t get a hero’s welcome.”

Responding to Maher’s comments on Twitter, Tlaib wrote: “Maybe folks should boycott his show.”

“I am tired of folks discrediting a form of speech that is centered on equality and freedom. This is exactly how they tried to discredit & stop the boycott to stand up against the apartheid in S. Africa. It didn’t work then and it won’t now,” she added.

Both congresswomen have announced their support for the BDS movement. The pair also voted against a House resolution that condemned the movement.

Tlaib previously criticized the House Foreign Affairs Committee for considering the resolution, saying the resolution tries “to silence opposition of Israel’s blatantly racist policies that demonize both Palestinians & Ethiopians.”

According to the movement’s website, it aims to isolate and marginalize Israel by “forcing companies, institutions, and governments to change their policies.” It also calls for people and companies to withdraw support, investments from the country and call for the end of military trade and free-trade agreements, business bans with Israeli settlements, and suspension of Israel’s membership in international forums such as United Nations bodies and FIFA.

Maher’s comments come a day after the Israeli government said in a statement of Aug. 15 it denied entry to Tlaib and Omar—both of whom have been outspoken about their displeasure toward Israel—stating that their itinerary “reveals that the sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel and increase incitement against it.”

“As a free and vibrant democracy, Israel is open to critics and criticism, with one exception: Israeli law prohibits the entry into Israel of those who call for and work to impose boycotts on Israel, as do other democracies that prohibit the entry of people who seek to harm the country,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote in a statement.

Following Israel’s decision, Tlaib wrote to the Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, making a humanitarian request claiming that it could be her final opportunity to see her 90-year-old grandmother. She promised to “respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit” in her letter.

Deri subsequently approved the request on early Aug. 16. But Tlaib, in a statement and series of Twitter posts, announced that she decided not to go despite the approval.

Responding to Tlaib, Deri criticized the congresswoman for putting her “hate for Israel” over her “love for her grandmother.”

Both Omar and Tlaib continued to speak out against Netanyahu and Trump, who also criticized the congresswomen throughout the week, following the Deri’s response.

On Aug. 16, Trump slammed Tlaib for her reversal, accusing her of grandstanding.

“Israel was very respectful & nice to Rep. Rashida Tlaib, allowing her permission to visit her ‘grandmother,’” Trump posted on Twitter. “As soon as she was granted permission, she grandstanded & loudly proclaimed she would not visit Israel. Could this possibly have been a setup? Israel acted appropriately!”

“Rep. Tlaib wrote a letter to Israeli officials desperately wanting to visit her grandmother. Permission was quickly granted, whereupon Tlaib obnoxiously turned the approval down, a complete setup,” he said in a separate post.

“The only real winner here is Tlaib’s grandmother. She doesn’t have to see her now!” he added.

Follow Janita on Twitter: @janitakan