Israel has long been perceived as a third rail in U.S. politics, a subject that will effectively end the career of any lawmaker who dares bring up its human rights abuses or questions the billions of dollars in taxpayer money it receives. However, over the past few years things have begun to move. Congress members like Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Betty McCollum have highlighted the plight of Palestinians and even questioned the political influence of organizations like AIPAC. The subject of conditioning aid to Israel has even been addressed by Democratic candidates on the campaign trail. Recent polls show that a majority of Democratic voters want Israel held accountable for its human rights abuses, and in some cases support the BDS movement.
This is certainly not to say all things are getting better. The Israeli occupation persists, and billions in U.S. military aid continues to flow. At home, the Trump administration has essentially launched a war on the Palestine Solidarity Movement across college campuses, and 28 states have now passed unconstitutional anti-BDS laws that target supporters of the boycott.
So while the zeitgeist might be tipping towards our side, the attacks are intensifying. Even if you care passionately about these issues, it’s a lot to keep up with. That’s why we’re launching The Shift, a weekly newsletter compiled by our U.S correspondent Michael Arria. Every Thursday it will take you to the front lines of these battles and highlight stories you might have missed.
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