Diplomacy

Bipartisan Bill Supporting U.S. Allies, Fighting Anti-Israel Boycotts Passes Senate

A bill that would support United States allies in the Middle East, including Israel and Jordan, and which supports states’ efforts to discourage discriminatory anti-Israel boycotts, overwhelmingly passed the Senate, JNS reported Tuesday.

The bill passed by a vote of 77 to 23.

Provisions in the bill would increase U.S. security cooperation with both Israel and Jordan, support states that refused to do business with entities that boycott Israel, reinforce 2016’s ten-year memorandum of understanding between the U.S. and Israel and impose new sanctions on Syria.

After the bill was advanced to the full Senate last week, Joshua Block, President and CEO of The Israel Project, released a statement applauding the “strong bipartisan support for the bill.”

The statement emphasized that the memorandum of understanding “is vitally important to the national security of both nations.”

“Lastly, it is imperative that we do not cease in the fight against the insidious and deeply anti-Semitic BDS movement,” the statement continued. “We applaud the Senate for taking important steps to empower state and local governments, including the 26 states that have anti-BDS laws, to counter the BDS movement’s economic warfare of discrimination.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R – Fla.) explained in an op-ed published Tuesday in The New York Times that the anti-boycott legislation that he co-sponsored with Sen. Joe Manchin (D – W. Va.) as part of the overall bill doesn’t “infringe on Americans’ First Amendment rights or prohibit their right to engage in boycotts.”

Rubio noted that his legislation did not address the actions of individuals, but was focused on businesses. The bill also targeted conduct, not speech. The bill also targeted conduct, not speech. This is consistent, he pointed out, with “the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights (2006).”

The reasoning is that no business has a right to do business with the state and that the state can insist that those it does business with do not engage in discriminatory practices.

Rubio quoted George Mason University law professor Eugene Kontorovich, who said, “Anti-discrimination restrictions on government contractors are commonplace and a normal requirement for government funding.”

He also noted that the anti-BDS bill enjoyed bipartisan support, including from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – Ky), Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D – N.Y.) and Senators James Risch, (R – Idaho); Bob Menendez (D – N.J.); Charles Grassley (R – Iowa); and Ron Wyden (D – Ore.).

[Photo: SenatorMarcoRubio / YouTube ]