With Democrats controlling the House, AIPAC is diluting its congressional push for anti-boycott legislation.
at AIPAC in Washington, March 25, 2019.
When pro-Israel activists descend on Capitol Hill on Tuesday for their annual lobbying day, they will be significantly scaling back their efforts to tackle the pro-Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
Unlike last year, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s agenda for the day of cordial meet-and-greets with lawmakers and their staffs does not include the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, legislation to prohibit companies and their employees from providing information to the United Nations that could be used to publicly list businesses operating in the West Bank. Nor does the agenda cover the Combating BDS Act, another top legislative target according to AIPAC’s latest available lobbying disclosures.
Instead, AIPAC is directing its activists to ask Congress for a nonbinding resolutioncondemning the BDS movement. Reps. Bradley Schneider, D-Ill., and Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., introduced the bipartisan resolution in the House alongside Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Ben Cardin, D-Md., in the upper chamber.
“Congress and successive administrations have sought to deepen bilateral economic ties and protect Israel against pernicious boycott efforts,” AIPAC’s 2019 lobbying agenda states. “Congress must continue to stand by US allies against discriminatory practices that are contrary to US interests.”
The temporary retreat comes as the new Democratic leadership in the House is still figuring out how far to take the anti-BDS fight amid Republican efforts to paint the party as anti-Israel. While only two House freshmen support BDS, the AIPAC-backed anti-BDS bills have exposed a bruising intraparty debate among Democrats with several lawmakers, including high-profile presidential candidates, coming out against the bills on free speech grounds.
“I read this as AIPAC’s effort to support something that can get overwhelming bipartisan support, which is a resolution against BDS but not legislation that will impose penalties on those who support it,” said Michael Koplow, the director of the Washington-based Israel Policy Forum.
AIPAC did not respond to Al-Monitor’s request for comment.
The resolution argues that BDS “undermines the possibility for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by demanding concessions of one party alone and encouraging the Palestinians to reject negotiations in favor of international pressure.”
It’s a significantly more modest deliverable than AIPAC’s push for the Israel Anti-Boycott Actduring last year’s lobbying day. With 58 co-sponsors, the bill from Cardin likely had enough support to clear the Senate’s 60-vote threshold last year, but it never advanced.
The Senate, however, did pass the Combating BDS Act, introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., by a 77-23 vote in February. That bill would give legal cover to more than 20 states with anti-BDS laws or executive actions on the books.
The American Civil Liberties has come out against both the Cardin and Rubio bills. Only one Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., voted for the Combating BDS Act.
Undeterred, AIPAC asked the House to follow the Senate’s lead and pass the bill, which was bundled with a security assistance package for Israel. But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., came out against the bill.
While activists won’t be pushing the House to pass the bill on Tuesday, AIPAC’s lobbying agenda does direct them to thank senators who voted for the Combating BDS Act.
A third bill, the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., reintroduced earlier this month, could allow the Donald Trump administration to crack down on academic boycotts of Israel by expanding the Education Department’s definition of anti-Semitism.
Republicans, meanwhile, have sought to highlight two freshman Democratic lawmakers — both Muslim — for their embrace of BDS: Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. While the resolution being pushed by AIPAC activists mentions neither Omar nor Tlaib by name, it’s a clear rebuke of their views.
Omar in particular has faced charges of anti-Semitism for her comments criticizing AIPAC’s role in advocating for pro-Israel policies. Hoyer took a thinly veiled swipe at both Omar and Tlaib during a speech at AIPAC on Sunday, promising to lead the largest-ever delegation of congressional freshmen to Israel in August despite Tlaib’s efforts to launch a competing trip.
Following Hoyer’s lead, Vice President Mike Pence called for Omar’s removal from the House Foreign Affairs Committee in his AIPAC speech today. Pence also assailed Democrats as a whole for failing to advance anti-BDS legislation on Capitol Hill.
A 2018 demonstration against antisemitism in Berlin. Photo: Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch.
A slight drop in the number of antisemitic incidents in Berlin during the first half of this year is no excuse for complacency, the city’s antisemitism commissioner emphasized on Thursday following the publication of statistics for hate crimes targeting Jews in the German capital from January-June 2019.
“Antisemitism remains a serious problem that we cannot tolerate in Berlin,” Lorenz Korgel — the city’s commissioner for combating antisemitism — told local news outlet Berliner Morgenpost. “The number of antisemitic incidents remains at a high level. ”
People wear kippas at a demonstration in front of a Jewish synagogue denouncing an antisemitic attack on a young man wearing a kippa, in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018. (photo credit: FABRIZIO BENSCH / REUTERS)
The population of the State of Israel has increased 2.1% since last year, according to a report released in time for Rosh Hashanah by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
Today, there are 9.1 million citizens of Israel, of which some 6.7 million (74%) are Jewish, the report shows. The country’s citizens also include 1.9 million Arabs (21%) and 0.4% of “others,” including Christians and those of other minority groups.
A women holds up a sign against anti-Semitism at a rally in New York City on Sept. 22, 2019. Photo: Rhonda Hodas Hack.
JNS.org – Hundreds of demonstrators rallied in front of City Hall in New York on Sunday, calling on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other municipal leaders, as well as those on the national level, to act against antisemitism and the wave of antisemitic hate crimes taking place against the Orthodox Jewish community.
The beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 17, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad.
On the eve of the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, ushering in the Jewish year of 5780, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics released its traditional end-of-the-year findings.
Israel’s population now stands at 9.092 million people — 6.744 million (74.2 percent) of whom are Jews, with 1.907 million (21 percent) Arabs and 441,000 (4.8 percent) listed as “other.”
Drew Seigla and Stephanie Lynne Mason. Photo: Instagram.
Drew Seigla and Stephanie Lynne Mason play Pertshik and Hodl, whose love story takes them all the way to Siberia in the award-winning show by the National Yiddish Theatre.
“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” — Sherlock Holmes, The Boscombe Valley Mystery
“Israel must, in the most blunt and clear way possible, illustrate to Washington that the prosperity of Jordan is a first-rate Israeli security and strategic interest.” — Former head of Mossad Ephraim Halevy at “Between Jerusalem and Amman: 25 Years Since the Signing of the Peace Agreement Between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” Institute for National Security Studies, Sept. 25, 2019.
A thought came to mind the other day.
For all the bluster about Judaism and anti-Semitism in America, I am not convinced that far-out-left and liberal young Jews, who have been very strident and even threatening on Israel-related issues and local American political battles, have done much on the ground to confront and quash, one way or another, attacks on Jews. They have portrayed themselves as gliding along a moral highway but have permitted immoral actions to exist quite close to home, far from Gaza (did any of them recite a public Kaddish in the town square for murdered and injured Jews, or their damaged and desecrated property)?
One of the hallmark features of Yom Kippur are the communal sins which we need to repent for. Most Jews focus on what we have done personally towards G-d and towards others. Little thought is given to how we could be better as a community. Or the sins we bear as a community.
However, the communal recitation of the Al Chet, repeated over and over on Yom Kippur is to drive the point home that we are responsible for one another
Incoming freshman Member of Knesset from the leftist, Democratic Union list, Yair Golan, did it again. Golan’s constant delegitimization of his political opponents on the right, smacks of the same delegitimization that tyrants, dictators, demagogues and assorted totalitarians always use, just before the Putsch.
In that regard, he’s right when he said recently, “I’m reminding people that the Nazis came to power democratically, so we have to be careful, very careful, so that radicals with a messianic view won’t exploit Israeli democracy to replace the system of government.” Think “
As Israeli frustration mounts about violence coming out of Gaza, the idea of a ground invasion, and once and for all to finish with Hamas aggression, becomes more appealing. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has endorsed this approach, saying, “There probably won’t be a choice but to topple the Hamas regime.” While sympathetic to this impulse, I worry that too much attention is paid to tactics and not enough to goals. The result could be harmful to Israel.