Bill Maher criticized the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel on his show Friday night, following Israel's ban on permitting Democratic representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from visiting the country.
"It's a bulls--- purity test by people who want to appear woke but actually slept through history class," Maher said on HBO's "Real Time."
Following pressure from President Donald Trump, Israel on Thursday banned reps. Omar and Tlaib, both of whom are vocal supporters of the BDS movement, from visiting the country. Tlaib asked Israel to allow her to visit her 90-year-old grandmother living in the West Bank, promising to "respect any restrictions and will not promote any boycotts against Israel." But when Israel accepted her offer, she rejected it.
The BDS campaign seeks to further isolate Israel from the international community under the charge that Israel's treatment of Palestinians is akin to apartheid. It's supported by a minority of Democratic lawmakers — the House of Representatives in July passed a measure to condemn it by a vote of 398 to 117. But Trump has sought to make it a wedge issue as part of his political strategy to erode bipartisan support for Israel, and to make Tlaib, Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ayana Pressley — four Democratic representatives on the left — the face of the Democratic party.
Maher, who has a history of inflammatory comments about Muslims, suggested that the occupation of Palestinian territory arose from violent uprisings, referring to the history of Palestinian suicide bombings and intifadas — organized grassroots violent attacks on Israelis.
"It's predicated on this notion, I think — it's very shallow thinking — that the Jews in Israel, mostly white, and the Palestinians are browner, so they must be innocent and correct, and the Jews must be wrong," he said. "As if the occupation came right out of the blue, that this completely peaceful people found themselves occupied."
The current conflict between Jewish and Arab populations in the region dates back to as early as the 1920s, when large groups of Jews migrated to the area in reaction to worldwide anti-Semitism.
Maher also criticized Omar's history of antisemitic comments, for which she's apologized.
"She apologized for it, but it's out there: Jews control the world, control the money," he said, adding of the lawmakers: "I can see why they don't get a hero's welcome."
Tlaib's grandmother, Muftia Tlaib, criticized Trump after he pressured Israel to bar her granddaughter from visiting.
"Trump tells me I should be happy Rashida is not coming," the elder Tlaib said. "May God ruin him."