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Dem presidential hopefuls vote against anti-BDS bill, as Van Hollen says it will ‘strengthen’ the peaceful BDS movement

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The Senate is once again debating boycott against Israel today, in a sign that Middle East policy is politicized as never before.

The Senate voted overwhelmingly yesterday, 76 to 22, to proceed forward on S.1, a bill sponsored by Marco Rubio– and AIPAC, the leading Israel lobby group– that encourages states to adopt measures to financially punish “entities using boycotts, divestments, or sanctions to influence Israel’s policies.”

The anti-BDS language is an unconstitutional limitation of free speech, the ACLU has said; state laws aimed at crushing BDS have already cost employment to a number of people of good faith who are opposed to Israeli policies.

The good news is that progressive Democrats drew a line in the sand, and presidential hopefuls voted against the procedural vote. Even though no Senator has come out in support of BDS, many have acknowledged the right of their constituents to counter Israeli actions. In a long speech opposing the bill, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland said in its overreach, the bill will fuel the BDS movement because Americans will insist on their right to “peacefully” protest the Netanyahu government.

“Just about every single Senator considering a 2020 run voted no. Democrats most in tune with their base have drawn a clear red line that repressive laws targeting Palestinian rights activism in violation of he first amendment are unacceptable,” Yousef Munayyer of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights comments. Though he adds: “The real scandal here is that there are 76 Senators that are willing to trample on the Constitution they swore to defend.”

The 22 No votes were all Democrats. The hopefuls are (or are thought to be) Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren.

One notable exception is Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar, who voted Yes.

Bernie Sanders:

While I do not support the BDS movement, we must defend every American’s constitutional right to peacefully engage in political activity. It is clear to me that S.1 would violate Americans’ First Amendment rights.

Kamala Harris was a bit of a surprise, given her fulsome speech to AIPAC last year saying she opposed all delegitimization of Israel. Adalah-NY notes that even “the strongly anti-Palestinian Booker and Harris” voted against. Jake Tapper:

Sen. Harris said she will likely vote against it because of her First Amendment concerns about the part of it involving BDS, which she said she opposes…Sen. Harris added that since the BDS part of the Senate bill won’t be in the House version she says GOPers are playing politics to try to make Democrats who support Israel look otherwise.

Kirsten Gillibrand voted no. She had been for similar legislation but changed her mind last year after town hall rose up against her. US Campaign for Palestinian Rights:

In an act unprecedented in recent history, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D) has formally withdrawn her sponsorship of S.720, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. Senator Gillibrand’s withdrawal comes after pressure from constituents who repeatedly questioned her support for the bill at recent town halls in New York City, concerned about its threat to the civil liberties of Americans and to the grassroots boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights. Senator Gillibrand’s withdrawal marks one of the few times a member of Congress has removed their name from a bill supported by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Tammy Baldwin of WI wrote:

I have always opposed BDS activities and will continue to do so. I support security aid to Israel and Syria sanctions, but overturns 50 years of bipartisan US policy and threatens a peaceful two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Chuck Schumer and other stalwarts of the Israel lobby voted to advance the bill after helping stop it during the shutdown.

The day was notable for Van Hollen’s long speech against the legislation. Shibley Telhami called it “extraordinary.” Max Blumenthal says, “It was filled with irritating liberal Zionist qualifiers. But still worth seeing it as where the winds blowing.”

The Maryland senator said the laws are blatantly unconstitutional and will be overturned by courts, and thus will strengthen “the very boycott movement that we seek to oppose. It [the legislation] hurts Israel, it hurts the United States.”

Here’s Van Hollen’s argument that the bill and Trump policy are a boon for BDS:

I predict that the boycott movement will continue to grow for a number of reasons. At the top of the list is the fact that the Trump administration’s actions and inaction are adding oxygen to the boycott movement. To start, the Trump administration has abandoned any pretense of trying to prevent the expansion of Israeli settlements in new parts of the West Banks. There has been a big jump in the number of tenders and settlement plans since President Trump took office. In fact, our ambassador there, Ambassador Friedman, has been a vocal cheerleader for additional settlements in the West Bank….

The Trump administration under the guidance of the president’s designated Middle East senior advisor his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has embarked on an undisguised effort to crush the Palestinians by revoking all U.S. humanitarian assistance… many of whom are living in horrible conditions… The effort to crush the Palestinians into submitting to a one-sided agreement will never work. President Trump and Jared Kushner apparently think this is just another real estate deal where you turn off the water and electricity to force your tenants out. Instead, these actions by the Trump administration will only add fuel to the boycott movement because many people will see no other vehicle for expressing their views.

Nothing– nothing– will motivate Americans to exercise their rights more than efforts to suppress them. Trying to suppress free speech, even unpopular speech, even conduct that we don’t support here… that will only add momentum …. [for] American citizens who may want to peacefully demonstrate their opposition to some of the Netanyahu government’s policies.. in a way they have a right to do…

One takeaway on yesterday’s debate is that the line is moving on Palestine in the Senate; and the principled opposition to the bill and AIPAC raises the issue, Why not be for BDS yourself, you profile in courage? Ali Abunimah is both impassioned and logical:

Why don’t you support BDS? What moral or logical reason could you have to oppose nonviolent civil society action and boycotts, like those used by the US Civil Rights movement and the anti-apartheid movement? Aren’t Palestinians humans too?

This is no longer enough. If Palestinians have rights that are being violated, something does not deny, why can’t they use boycotts and other nonviolent tactics to win their rights, like US Civil Rights movement and anti-apartheid movement?

There is certainly some hairsplitting among the Democratic opposition in demonstrating their love for Israel. Van Hollen said that senators used a bill intended to demonstrate our support for Israel to drive a wedge between Democrats who support Israel and those who really really support Israel. Connecticut’s Chris Murphy:

I don’t support BDS. I don’t support forcing public employees to sign loyalty pledges to anyone in order to do their job. I don’t support allowing Republicans to politicize support for Israel by pushing needlessly divisive bills. None of these are inconsistent w each other.

J Street helped build opposition to the bill as unconstitutional, but it retweeted van Hollen’s line that the bill supports the same punishment for someone who advocates boycotting a business in Tel Aviv as it does those who advocate boycott of commerce with the settlements, including with illegal outposts. J Street says it thereby endangers the two-state solution by “erasing the distinction between Israel and West Bank settlements — undermining hopes for peace.”

Here is some of the rage being expressed toward the Senate legislation by leftists and liberty-lovers:

And Yousef Munayyer has a piece in the Washington Post saying that all Senators support the tool of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions when it is aimed at other targets. “When politicians say the oppose Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions for Palestinian human rights despite supporting these tactics for many other rights, what they are saying is they don’t support Palestinian human rights.”

Thanks to Dave Reed, Annie Robbins, and Adam Horowitz.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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23 Responses

  1. US Citizen on January 30, 2019, 12:52 pm

    The senators who pushed this bill, foremost among them Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) have betrayed the Constitution – as have the AIPAC staffers who are attempting to gut the US Constitution on behalf of israels Nothingyahoo. AIPAC should long ago have been made to register as the agent of a foreign power, and it is a consistent failure of the Department of Justice and the FBI that no pressure has ever been applied to the organization, which attempts to buy or bully representatives who should be standing up for their districts, not kowtowing to an international corrupt bully like Nothingyahoo.

    What kind of real democracy results in 2% of the population determining US foreign policy in the Middle East to rubber-stamp israel’s rogue whims? A refusal to sign what amounts to a required “Loyalty to Israel” oath — akin to the now discredited and unconstitutional anti-Communist USA loyalty oaths common in the McCarthy era and right into the 1960s is the height of disloyalty to the US. As a US citizen I have to be loyal to Israel before the USA? Oh hell no. As a US citizen I’m going to be arrested for telling the truth about israel? Oh hell no.

    Furthermore, every Congress member who even considered signing the anti-BDS bill is sacrificing the rights of their own constituents and all Americans to the interests of a foreign government. Once again, this is the height of disloyalty – and a measure of just how much power AIPAC has. Every one of them should be removed from office.

    It is clearly illegal for government to force someone to waive a constitutional right of political speech, including boycotts. We cannot allow Zionists, be they Democrats or Republicans, to abrogate our constitutional rights, so as to further shield israel from accountability.

    And everyone is in a tizzy about Russia when israel has interfered more in US politics than any other country? If your loyalties lie with Israel, you’re free to leave the States; just surrender your US citizenship at the border. No man can serve two masters.

    • Citizen on January 30, 2019, 4:39 pm

      Agreed. Anybody else?

      • Kay24 on January 30, 2019, 5:45 pm

        I agree too. It makes sense.

    • JWalters on January 30, 2019, 7:08 pm

      I agree 100% with every point in this comment. The avalanche is beginning. The enforced silence about Israel is now out in the open with Michelle Alexander’s brilliant article

      All these people in Congress are now having to decide whether to be profiles in courage and put morality before money, or whether to continue being chickenshits for the criminal Israeli regime’s blood money. Will Israel manage to suppress this uprising, as it has others? Or will its monstrous evil run aground on the US Constitution’s 1st Amendment? Which to bet on?

      As if that’s not enough, a new investigation of 9/11 is coming. That will uncover another mass of suppressed information. Bush/Cheny’s official 9/11 report omitted so much important information it is truly absurd. And that was clearly a “neocon” (aka Israeli) administration. So that could unearth some more very bad news about Israel e.g. War Profiteers and 9/11.

      My deep thanks to those brave Senators who voted to stand up for the US Constitution, and the core principle of freedom of speech, and the intellectual and moral integrity which depend upon free speech, and against the sinister, subversive oppression of that most central liberty.

    • Misterioso on January 31, 2019, 9:19 am

      @ US Citizen, et al

      A reminder re Rubio:

      “The pro-Israel billionaires & neocons behind Marco Rubio” – “Foreign Policy In Focus,” Dec. 8, 2015

      “Rubio’s career has been funded from the beginning by multi-billionaire Israel partisans such as Normal Braman, Paul Singer, Sheldon Adelson, and Larry Ellison. Rubio has close ties to the pro-Israel neocons who pushed the U.S. into the disastrous Iraq war, and he advocates positions that would likely lead to still more war and violence.

      “With pundits and columnists dissecting and critiquing every word uttered by GOP front-runners Ben Carson and Donald Trump, comparatively little attention has been paid to the positions and affiliations of a far more electable Republican presidential candidate: Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

      “Unlike Trump or Carson, Rubio is considered a stalwart member of the party’s establishment wing, standing out in the crowded Republican primary field for his comparatively moderate stances on issues such as immigration reform. While he lags behind Trump and Carson in most polls and runs neck-and-neck with ‘Tea Party’ evangelical Ted Cruz, Rubio is primed to jump to first should the spectacle of the ‘anti-establishment’ candidates finally run its course.

      “Beyond his veneer of reasonableness, however, Rubio has established himself as the most adept of the Republican candidates at regurgitating the militaristic talking points of the party’s neoconservative wing. His competency in this regard has earned him the favor of influential hawkish donors like Sheldon Adelson, as well as an array of neoconservative political operatives.”

      “Bolstered by an all-star cast of Bush-era foreign policy ideologues, the Florida senator has echoed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the ‘conditions’ do not exist for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; vowed to renege on the Iran nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions on the country, potentially putting the United States on the path to another catastrophic war in the Middle East; and promised to rescind the Obama administration’s diplomatic achievements with Cuba, further alienating the United States in Latin America.”

      “Sheldon Adelson’s ‘Perfect Little Puppet'”
      “Perhaps the most consequential relationship Rubio has built for his presidential campaign has been with billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson — a major funder of Republican causes and hardline ‘pro-Israel’ initiatives in particular. Rubio’s courtship of the controversial mega-donor has spurred criticism even from Donald Trump, who tweeted in October [2015]: ‘Sheldon Adelson is looking to give big dollars to Rubio because he feels he can mold him into his perfect little puppet. I agree!’

      “Obsessed with imposing his hawkish worldview on both U.S. and Israeli politics, Adelson has been described by veteran journalist Bill Moyers as the ‘unofficial head of the Republican Party’ and the ‘uncrowned King of Israel.’ Adelson doled out an estimated $100 million —more than anyone else in American history — during the 2012 presidential election, at first in support of Newt Gingrich and then to the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan presidential ticket.

      “The key to Adelson’s wallet is the issue most near and dear to his heart — and the one on which he’s most out of step with decades of mainstream U.S. policy: Israel.

      “Adelson’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the broader Middle East can most charitably be described as Manichaean. Less charitably, it’s racist and reactionary. Adelson has disparaged the two-state solution, denying even the existence of the Palestinians as a distinct people; called for a nuclear bomb to be dropped on Iran; and dismissed concerns that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians was undermining its democracy with a ‘So what?’

      “Adelson is to the right of even the American Israel Public Affairs Committee — or AIPAC, the famous ‘pro-Israel’ lobby — breaking with the group in 2007 over disagreements on U.S. economic aid to the Palestinian Authority. He’s instead propped up a host of uber-hawkish advocacy organizations that have helped make his extremist visions politically viable, such as the Zionist Organization of America, Christians United for Israel, the Republican Jewish Coalition, and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, among others.

      “In April [2016], Politico reported that Rubio has ‘reached out to Adelson more often than any other 2016 candidate’ and ‘provided him with the most detailed plan for how he’d manage America’s foreign policy.’ The piece added that Rubio phones Adelson ‘every two weeks’ and is the ‘clear frontrunner’ to win the ‘Sheldon Adelson primary.’ A follow-up article in October added that a ‘formal endorsement’ is imminent, ‘and with it, the potential for a multimillion dollar contribution.’

      “In Israel, meanwhile, Adelson has twisted the country’s political landscape by publishing and freely distributing the right-wing newspaper Israel Hayom, which fostered the rise of Benjamin Netanyahu and right-wing parties like the Likud. Bloomberg reported in June [2016] that Israel Hayom has ‘all but anointed’ Rubio.”

      “While Adelson waits in the wings, Rubio’s already won the official support of another major hardline ‘pro-Israel’ donor: hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer. Declaring his endorsement in October, [2015] Singer described Rubio in a letter to his network of like-minded donors as the ‘strongest choice for the nomination. According to CNN, Singer’s support is a huge boost for Rubio, and a blow to rivals like Jeb Bush, ‘because the billionaire has a vast network of people who will give hard dollars to Rubio and lots of money to his super PAC.’

      “Rubio’s political career was in fact jump-started by powerful donors in the ideological vein of Adelson and Singer. Norman Braman, a Florida businessman with a decisively hawkish attitude on U.S. Middle East policy, has been the ‘single-largest backer of Rubio’s presidential campaign’ thus far, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA). Braman, a billionaire who’s funded illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, took Rubio on a trip to Israel shortly after he was elected to the Senate.

      “The JTA has reported that Braman’s relationship with Rubio goes back to Rubio’s early political career. The donor ‘helped finance the young senator’s legislative agenda, employed Rubio as a lawyer, hired Rubio’s wife (a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader) as a philanthropic adviser, helped fund Rubio’s position as a college instructor, and assisted Rubio with his personal finances.'”

    • Misterioso on January 31, 2019, 11:21 am


      [This Haaretz article also has a video]

      Ilhan Omar Says U.S. Should Call Out Israel Like Iran, ‘Chuckles’ When Israel ‘Upheld as a Democracy'”

      “Democratic Congresswoman made the remarks during an interview with Yahoo News”
      Haaretz, Jan. 31/19

      “Freshman Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar compared Israel to Iran during an interview on Tuesday with Zainab Salbi on Yahoo News’ ‘Through Her Eyes.’ Omar added that she ‘chuckles’ when Israel is upheld as a democracy in the Middle East given last year’s passage of the nation-state law defining Israel as a Jewish state.

      “Omar was roundly criticized for a 2012 tweet in which she said Israel has ‘hypnotized’ the world. ‘Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel,’ the tweet read, which she has recently apologized for.

      “Omar, one of only two members of Congress to openly support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, serves as a member of the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee.

      “‘I want to talk about Israel because it has been a point of contention,’ Salbi began. ‘How can America work productively towards a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians in your opinion?’

      “’By having an equal approach to dealing with both. Most of the things that have been aggravating to me is that we have had a policy that makes one superior to the other,’ Omar responded. ‘And we mask it with a conversation about justice and a two-state solution. When you have policies that clearly prioritize one over the other.’

      “When Omar was pushed to clarify, she added, ‘I mean just our relationship with the Israeli government and the Israeli state. And so when I see Israel institute laws that recognize it as a Jewish state and does not recognize the other religions that are living in it and we still uphold it as a democracy in the Middle East, I almost chuckle because I know that if, you know, we see that in any other society we would criticize it.’

      “‘We would call it out,” Omar continued. ‘We do that to Iran, to any other place that sort of upholds its religion. And I see that now in Saudi Arabia and so I am aggravated truly in those contradictions.'”

    • Misterioso on January 31, 2019, 3:38 pm

      U.S. Citizen, et al

      RE: California’s junior senator, Kamala Harris:

      “‘More AIPAC Than J Street’: Kamala Harris Runs to the Right on Foreign Policy”

      “The California senator’s hardline positions on Israel-Palestine point to a dangerous disregard for international law.”

      Foreign Policy in Focus, January 28/19
      By Stephen Zunes,

      “California’s junior senator Kamala Harris has announced her presidential candidacy, joining what will likely become an unusually large field of Democrats seeking the nomination.

      “Harris is being embraced by many progressive Democrats, and she’s branding herself as a progressive. Yet in the course of her little more than two years in the U.S. Senate, she’s taken some foreign policy positions that should give pause to supporters of human rights and international law.

      “An Unpromising Start
      “In her very first foreign policy vote in January 2017, for instance, Harris sided with President Trump in criticizing the outgoing President Obama’s refusal to veto an otherwise-unanimous, very modest, and largely symbolic UN Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements. Among other things, that resolution reiterated previous Security Council calls for Israel to stop expanding its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, which violate the Fourth Geneva Convention and a landmark ruling by the International Court of Justice.

      “The Senate resolution, on the other hand — which Harris herself co-sponsored — challenged the right of the United Nations to weigh in on questions of international humanitarian law in territories under foreign belligerent occupation.

      “The Security Council resolution called on both the Israeli and Palestinian governments to prevent violence against civilians, condemn and combat terrorism, refrain from inciting violence, and comply with their obligations under international law. But Harris’s resolution called the UN version ‘one-sided,’ and effectively equated opposition to the illegal colonization drive by Israel’s right-wing government with opposition to Israel itself.

      “Harris’s measure also appeared to argue that Obama’s decision to abstain on the UN resolution somehow undermines the Oslo Accords for an eventual two-state solution. Mysteriously, according to Harris, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s expansion of settlements to the point that the establishment of viable contiguous Palestinian states alongside Israel is no longer possible does not.

      “Harris insists that the United Nations should not have any role regarding Israel and Palestine. Her resolution asserts that the issue of these illegal settlements should be decided only through U.S.-sponsored ‘direct talks’ between the Palestinians under occupation and their Israeli occupiers. Not only has Kamala Harris’s strategy not worked (since this has been U.S. policy for 25 years, during which the settlements have quadrupled), but Trump’s appointees focusing on the negotiations are all strong supporters of Israeli occupation and settlements and oppose Palestinian statehood.

      “In supporting this resolution, Harris sided with Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell against fellow California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein and with Republican House leader Paul Ryan against Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi. This is a troubling indication of who her foreign policy allies will be if she becomes president.

      “Setting Roadblocks to Peace
      “On the 50th anniversary of Israel’s 1967 conquest of neighboring Arab territories, Harris supported another Senate resolution celebrating the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem. As an apparent effort to discredit reports by human rights groups critical of Israeli treatment of non-Jewish residents in the city, the resolution praised Israel for ensuring that the rights of Muslim and Christian Palestinians were ‘respected and protected.’

      “Though professing to support a two-state solution, Harris has repeatedly refused to make any distinction between criticisms of the Israeli occupation and colonization in the West Bank and attacks on Israel itself.

      “She’s accused campaigns supporting boycotts and divestment targeting the Israeli occupation of anti-Semitism, and she claims that efforts in the United Nations to pressure the Netanyahu government to end its violations of international humanitarian law are actually designed to ‘delegitimize Israel.’ She even signed a letter criticizing the United Nations and its agencies for such efforts which commended Trump’s former UN Ambassador Nicki Haley’s attacks on the world body.

      “Harris insists that lasting peace can only take place if the Palestinians not only uphold their recognition and security guarantees to Israel, but explicitly recognize Israel as ‘Jewish state,’ a requirement not made of Egypt and Jordan in their peace agreements. Indeed, there appears to have never been a peace treaty in which recognition of a country’s ethnic or religious identity has been a requirement for ending a conflict, particularly by those who are discriminated against by virtue of such an identity.

      “By adding this condition to the peace process, which even the most moderate Palestinian leader would be unable to support, she appears to be attempting to place the blame for the lack of negotiated settlement on those under Israeli occupation.

      “‘More AIPAC Than J Street’”
      “At some point or another, most Democratic senators have supported pro-Israel resolutions and made statements regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that have left supporters of human rights and international law disappointed.

      “Harris, however, goes well beyond the perfunctory pro-Israel positions so common in Washington.

      “For example, The Intercept reports: ‘Unlike some of her counterparts in the Senate, she has not publicly made any demands of Israel or Netanyahu regarding the human rights of Palestinians.’ In another case, she refused to join fellow Democratic senators and presidential aspirants like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in signing a letter to Netanyahu demanding a halt to the impending demolition of a Palestinian village. Nor has she joined Sanders and Warren in criticizing Israel’s excessive use of lethal force against Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip.

      “Despite damning reports on Israeli repression against Arabs in both the West Bank and Israeli proper — reports made by international human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human rights Watch, as well as by Israeli human rights groups like B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence — Harris has lionized Israel as being a ‘beautiful home to democracy and justice.’

      “While most Democrats today ally more with the moderate pro-Israel group J Street rather than the hardline AIPAC, which has generally backed Republicans in recent years, Harris has been virtually the only Democrat to appear before the right-wing pro-Netanyahu organization each year since being elected to the Senate. Indeed, as the Jewish Telegraph Agency observed, her record demonstrates that ‘She’s more AIPAC than J Street.’

      “The Right of Conquest
      “It is not unusual for otherwise progressive members of Congress to have a blind spot when it comes to Israel and Palestine. However, Harris views are not only particularly extreme and dangerous, but may be indicative of a wider contempt for human rights and international law in her foreign policy views overall.

      “It’s important to note that Harris’s views aren’t necessarily worse than some other Democratic contenders for the nomination, including Cory Booker and Kristen Gillibrand. However, those senators are already seen as suspect by progressive party activists as a result of their centrist policies on a number of issues, whereas Harris appears to have created more of a buzz on the party’s left, most of whom are unaware of her foreign policy views.

      “Harris claims to support a two-state solution, yet in practice she has given no indication that she would be willing to take any steps to make that possible. Indeed, she has supported policies that would make such a settlement impossible.

      “By rejecting any role for the United Nations or the relevance of international humanitarian law in occupied territories, and by insisting that such questions should only be resolved through voluntary agreement of the occupying power, Harris is effectively giving license to aggressors worldwide to conquer and occupy their neighbors with impunity. She appears to embrace a neoconservative worldview which supports the right of conquest and rejects international law, including the inadmissibility of countries expanding their territory by force and colonizing these conquered territories with their citizens.

      “If Harris’s position on Israel and Palestine is indeed reflective of her overall world view, she is therefore essentially endorsing the right of conquest over the right of self-determination. It raises the questions as to whether, had she been in office in the 1950s, she would have defended the right of the French to colonize Algeria and the British to colonize Kenya and Rhodesia, and opposed any efforts by the United Nations in decolonization.

      “Given the broader implications of Harris’s hardline positions regarding Israel and Palestine, they should not go unchallenged. Given how she has only begun to address foreign policy issues since coming to the U.S. Senate two years ago, perhaps her views are somewhat malleable. Progressive activists are pushing the Democratic Party left on a range of issues this year, and foreign policy should be no exception.”

  2. scott9854958 on January 30, 2019, 5:18 pm

    Sounds like Democrats are about to go full circular firing squad on each other. I welcome this conflict, it needed to happen, like lancing an infected boil.

    Let me help them a bit. Their only path to the White House in 2020 is BDS and some sort of rational border security. The Biden neoliberal agenda of crazy on top of crazy is deader than a porn star’s eyes.

  3. Kay24 on January 30, 2019, 5:52 pm

    It seems when it comes to Israel, Congress is willing to ignore the rights of their constituents, to protest (peacefully), and send Israel a strong message. Once again Congress is showing how controlled they are by AIPAC, and if this was Iran, that bill would have passed overwhelmingly, already. I am sick of our politicians being controlled and being beholden by this parasitic country, and how afraid of the word “anti-semitic” they are, when it is used incorrectly by Israel vicious lobby here. The hypocrisy once again of the US is so apparent to the rest of the world, when it preaches human rights and democracy to everyone else, but ignore what is happening to the Palestinian people, enabling their occupier by supporting every damn thing it does including human rights abuses.
    I have seen articles from around the world accusing America of being controlled by the zionists, and it is embarrassing every time. I guess this will be yet another reason for the world to think so.

  4. Citizen on January 30, 2019, 11:52 pm

    76 US senators blatantly voted to kill one of the most prized assets/values all citizens have, the right of free speech and assembly, including to boycott a foreign state/ government/regime. The most anti-semitic groups in America have for decades now routinely call our government ZOG, acronym for Zionist Occupied Government. I don’t know how much law schools have changed, but when I went there we had a mandated course called Constitutional Law. Some of the cases we studied were complicated, but if a test case had involved this anti-BDS legislation it would have been instantly recognized by the dumbest student as unconstitutional on its face.

  5. MHughes976 on January 31, 2019, 4:30 am

    That the Hopefuls are the distinctive group in this respect is a very interesting observation. What it shows is that the wind is blowing from a new direction among the Democrat primary voters whose support the Hopefuls need. So far not outside this group, as the behaviour of the other Senators shows. Not sure I’d trust the courts to stop them.

    • Citizen on January 31, 2019, 9:59 am

      Eventually, an ACLU case will reach SCOTUS. Then, it’s a slam dunk to find this legislation unconstitutional. However, this will likely take long time, and SCOTUS refuses to hear cases all the time, the selection varying on the makeup of SCOTUS at any given time. But SCOTUS will not be able to use lack of legal standing to avoid the issue. It’s a strain, but possible, it could use national security to avoid hearing, as it did in the case of the AIPAC defendants. SCOTUS buried that issue. Anybody?

  6. YoniFalic on January 31, 2019, 4:40 am

    Racist Rubio will join John C. Calhoun and other Senate villains opposed to liberty and to freedom.

    Before the Civil War Southern States tried to limit abolitionist freedom of expression.

    See Abolitionists and Free Speech.

    The cause of abolition of the white racist European colonial-settler invader-genocidaire state is exactly ethically equivalent to the cause of abolition of slavery before the US Civil War.

    Eva Illouz has written in Haaretz to describe the similarity of the occupation to black slavery: 47 years a slave: A new perspective on the occupation.

    Transitivity compels us to find the State of Israel to be logically equivalent to the Confederacy.

    Just as the Confederacy had to be defeated for the good of the USA and for the good of the human race, likewise the State of Israel must be completely and utterly dismantled.

  7. Talkback on January 31, 2019, 7:08 am

    Yousef Munayyer: “When politicians say the oppose Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions for Palestinian human rights despite supporting these tactics for many other rights, what they are saying is they don’t support Palestinian human rights.”

    Nope. What they are actually saying is that they only support human rights if they are not violated by Jews.

    • Citizen on January 31, 2019, 10:01 am

      Nothing inconsistent there, assuming by “Jews” you mean Israel First Jews?

  8. Misterioso on January 31, 2019, 9:38 am,-2019-Dr-Ashrawi-Jerusalem's-Palestinian-identity-will-outlive-Israel's-colonial-occupation

    The Palestine Liberation Organization.
    Press Release, Jan. 31/19

    Dr. Ashrawi: “Jerusalem’s Palestinian identity will outlive Israel’s colonial occupation”

    “Earlier today, Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan signed an order extending the closure the Orient House as well as several other Palestinian institutions in occupied East Jerusalem, including the East Jerusalem Chamber of Commerce, the Higher Council for the Arab Tourism Industry, and the Center for Palestinian Studies.”

    “PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi condemned the move and issued the following statement:

    “’This provocative decision adds to the suffering and isolation, imposed by Israel on the Palestinian population in Jerusalem as part of its colonial policy to displace and replace the Palestinian people with all means possible, including the expansion of the illegal settlement regime. It is also a continuation of Israel’s illegal cultural, economic and political persecution of the Palestinian people in the capital, Jerusalem.

    “‘On behalf of the PLO, I reaffirm the Palestinian people’s unequivocal rejection of Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem. Further, Israel has no sovereign rights in our occupied capital, Jerusalem, as repeatedly affirmed by the United Nations Security Council.
    Israel’s decision comes in the context of the partnership between the Israeli right-wing extremist coalition and the Trump administration, whose objective is to irresponsibly destroy all chances for the attainment of peace. The illegal and unilateral decision of the US administration to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel continues to embolden and encourage Israel to escalate its violations of Palestinian national and human rights. This US-Israeli partnership is allowing Israel to be a shameless serial violator of international law while undeservedly enjoying immunity from international accountability.

    “‘Jerusalem’s Palestinian identity will outlive Israel’s colonial occupation and its illegal action. Palestinians are deeply rooted in the City and are determined to protect their capital and its cultural heritage.

    “‘Members of the international community must intervene to hold Israel accountable for its unlawful actions. I call on all states to stand up to this offensive affront to international law and defend the integrity of the rules-based international order.'”

  9. Citizen on January 31, 2019, 10:15 am

    I notice Israel is begging Trump regime not to cut off funds for the Palestinian cops who work daily to secure Israel. Israel does not want to have to do that themselves, and actually pay for the security those Palestinian cops provide for Israel. It’s not stressed enough IMHO, that Israel does not pay for its occupation, the Western states do, led by USA. I’m sure Jared will clue his father in law in & so it will be handled to keep that particular aspect of the status quo.

  10. CigarGod on January 31, 2019, 10:45 am

    Phil, Dave, Annie, Adam,
    Nice work on this article.

  11. captADKer on January 31, 2019, 3:54 pm

    no better illustration of the definition of “specious” than van hollen’s explanation for the select democrats who voted against this bill.
    issues regarding israel will catalyze the implosion of the progresfive movement by arguements and actions such as the one hee.

    • Citizen on February 1, 2019, 1:53 pm

      So, you are saying he came out for 1st Amendment rights, while simultaneously repeating Zionist myths, Hasbara?

  12. Citizen on February 1, 2019, 1:53 pm

    Yesterday, Ambassador Daniel Shapiro, Hudson Institute’s Mike Doran, author Mona Charen and NYTimes op-ed columnist Michelle Goldberg discussed Trump’s Israel policy and the growing concern of Democrats turning away from Israel during a lively panel discussion co-hosted by the Anti-Defamation League and the Israel Policy Forum, and moderated by ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, at the Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center in New York City.

  13. JLewisDickerson on February 1, 2019, 4:56 pm

    RE: “The effort to crush the Palestinians into submitting to a one-sided agreement will never work. President Trump and Jared Kushner apparently think this is just another real estate deal where you turn off the water and electricity to force your tenants out. “ ~ Van Hollen

    MY COMMENT: Ouch!

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