Anti-BDS bill supporting Israel has divided the US Congress - ABDULLAH MURADOĞLU

Anti-BDS bill supporting Israel has divided the US Congress

The U.S. Federal government has been closed for three weeks because of Trump’s insistence to build a wall across the Mexican border. Trump isn’t agreeing to sign the budget draft unless a fund is also allocated for the wall. Democrats, on the other hand, are insisting on not passing any bill from the Senate as long as the government stays closed. Due to this duel between the two parties, the staff of the federal government can’t get their salaries. Some Republicans who are uncomfortable as a result of this insistence on keeping the government closed for the “Mexican wall” are willing to cooperate with the Democrats.

The Mexican wall crisis also prevented the passing of a law in the Senate which is in favor of Israel. The bill, for now, has failed. It came to the General Council last Tuesday and was rejected on a vote of 56-44. The bill consists of introducing legal sanctions on the companies and individuals boycotting Israel. It was prepared by Senator Marco Rubio, and sponsored by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and Senate’s Foreign Relations committee chairman Jim Risch.

The bill aimed to stop the “initiative to boycott Israel for Palestine” known as BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions). The “Israel Lobby” and “Christian Zionists” aim to pacify the BDS by presenting it as an “anti-Semitic” criminal organization. According to these circles, criticizing the Israeli government is equal to “anti-Semitism.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also stated that he sees the “BDS” as an existential threat.

The Israel lobby made fighting against the “BDS” as its main objective. The lobby became successful in introducing criminal punishments against the BDS in 26 different states in the U.S. In these states, individuals and companies who are working with the governments are asked to guarantee that they are not going to join the Boycott Israel movement. Rubio’s bill, on the other hand, aimed to introduce these regulations to the federal level.

There are 100 seats in the Senate and the Republicans have the majority with 53 senators, however, in order to pass a bill, 60 votes are required. When it comes to Israel, the usual thing was the cooperation between the two parties. However, while those who support Israel are becoming fewer among the Democrats, with Trump the “Christian Democrats” and the pro-Israeli far rightists are becoming more influential in the Republican Party. While the Republicans are ready to support Israel unconditionally, Democrats have started to question the U.S.’s support for Israel.

Among the Republican Senators, only Rand Paul is criticizing the U.S.’s unconditional and unlimited support for Israel. Senator Paul was targeted by the “Israel Lobby” and “Christian Zionists” for stopping the final voting for a bill introducing a $38 million aid to Israel which was planned to be paid in the next 10 years. According to Senator Paul, who underlines that he is not against Israel, the Americans have the right to boycott practices they consider wrong. Many Democrats state that they don’t support “BDS”, but that they won’t let the government limit the freedom of expression. Bernie Sanders and Dianne Feinstein are among the senators who are opposing the anti-BDS bill. In his statement, Feinstein said, “Despite my strong support for Israel, I am against this bill since it is clearly violating the constitution.” The mainstream leadership among the Democrats promised that they will reject any bill coming to the Senate as long as the federal government stays closed. Senator Rubio claims that many of the Democrats are rejecting the bill because they secretly support the “BDS”.

Democrats are using the anti-BDS bill’s voting as leverage against Trump. They want to kill two birds with one stone by putting Trump in a dilemma between the “anti-BDS bill and Mexican wall. Trumpist Republicans argue that the insistence on the wall is going to cause many losses in the 2020 elections for the party.

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