WJC condemns Tlaib for calling to boycott Bill Maher

World Jewish Congress says Tlaib demonstrated "disregard for freedom of speech" by suggesting a boycott of Bill Maher’s HBO show.

Ben Ariel ,

Ronald Lauder, head of WJC.
Ronald Lauder, head of WJC.
Flash 90

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) on Sunday condemned Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan after she called for a boycott of Jewish comedian Bill Maher’s HBO show “Real Time” in the wake of criticism he voiced of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

In a statement, the WJC said it “finds it deeply disturbing that Rep. Rashida Tlaib would demonstrate disregard for freedom of speech by suggesting a boycott of Bill Maher’s HBO show after the popular television host denounced the anti-Semitic Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement seeking to delegitimize the Jewish state.”

“It is outrageous that Tlaib, who has repeatedly deployed anti-Semitic tropes, would promote the boycott of the only democracy in the Middle East and the one nation that fully respects human rights and guarantees freedom for Muslims, Christian and Jews. Serious questions need to be asked about Tlaib’s motivation in supporting the extremist BDS Movement, which is allied with terrorists and is not shy about its ultimate aim of destroying Israel," said WJC President Ronald S. Lauder.

“The WJC fully supports the constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech and has borne witness to the historic horrors associated with boycotts and the suppression of free speech. Adolf Hitler infamously boycotted Jewish-owned businesses and worked to ban those in the entertainment and media industries who were critical of the Nazi party. After annexing Austria in 1938, Hitler quickly targeted for censure the Kabarett satirical reviews renowned for their expression of independent thought. We Jews know what boycotts can lead to. We find it concerning that a member of the U.S. Congress would lobby for BDS and so easily suggest that Maher’s show should be boycotted simply because he expressed an opinion with which she disagrees," Lauder added.

Tlaib’s call for a boycott of Maher’s show was made in a tweet on Sunday, in which the Muslim lawmaker 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.”

Maher had said on his show that “BDS is a bulls**t purity test by people who want to appear ‘woke’ but actually slept through history class.”

“I think it’s very shallow thinking that the Jews in Israel are mostly white and Palestinians are mostly brown, so they must be innocent and correct and the Jews must be wrong,” he added. “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.”

Tlaib has been at the center of controversy in recent days, after Israel decided to ban her and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota from entering the country due to their support for BDS.

On Friday, Tlaib requested that Israel grant her permission to visit her grandmother who lives in Palestinian Authority-assigned areas of Judea and Samaria.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri agreed to the request, but Tlaib then announced she would not make the visit, claiming she was being like a criminal and adding, “I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in--fighting against racism, oppression & injustice."

Tlaib is no stranger to controversial statements since being elected. She claimed in an interview in May that Palestinian Arabs living in the British Mandate prior to the establishment of the State of Israel “provided” a safe haven to Jews after the Holocaust.

When asked in a past television interview whether she would vote against military aid to Israel when she goes to Congress, Tlaib replied, “Absolutely.”