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Ilhan Omar Claims She Didn’t Hide Her Support For BDS During Campaign

Representative Ilhan Omar claimed in an interview on Sunday that she didn’t hide her support for BDS during her election campaign — even though she went from saying it was “not helpful in getting that two-state solution” during a debate to announcing her personal support for it after the election.

MSNBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin asked Omar how she would have voted on a bill currently in the Senate that would ensure states had the right to ban contracts with Israel-boycotters. Mohyeldin mentioned that critics, including many in the local Jewish community, had accused Omar of being ambiguous when it came to her thoughts on the Israel boycott.

The Minnesota congresswoman said she was “not vague on the issue,” which she deems “unconstitutional.”

“I actually did get an opportunity to vote on a state version of that bill, and I voted no. It is unconstitutional,” she said. “One of the strongest ideals of this nation is that people have an ability to freely express themselves, and I really have [a] strong belief in the First Amendment.”

Omar was referring to her vote in the Minnesota state legislature against a bill that would bar the state from contracting with companies that boycott Israel. The bill passed with large bipartisan support and was passed into law by Democratic Governor Mark Dayton, but was criticized by Omar and some other Democrats who believed it violated free speech rights.

“I know that so many of the progresses that this nation has achieved came about because people were willing to speak up and ask for change,” Omar added in her interview. “So we cannot here in the United States say to people that they cannot raise their voice, that they can’t use the resources that they have to oppose oppression wherever that might exist.”

Alyssa Fisher is a news writer at the Forward. Email her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher

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