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Pandering to Israel Has Got to Stop

By       Message Philip Giraldi       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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From Unz Review

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Pledges of loyalty to Israel are un-American

From commons.wikimedia.org: Unites States of Israel {MID-186396}
Unites States of Israel
(Image by Wikipedia (commons.wikimedia.org))
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Most Americans have no idea of just how powerful Israeli and Jewish interests are. Two recent stories out of Kansas and Texas illustrate exactly how supporters of Israel in the United States are ready, willing and able to subvert the existing constitutional and legal protections that uphold the right to fair and impartial treatment for all American citizens.

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The friends of Israel appear to believe that anyone who is unwilling to do business with Israel or even with the territories that it has illegally occupied should not be allowed to do business in any capacity with federal, state or even local governments. Constitutional guarantees of freedom of association for every American are apparently not valid if one particular highly favored foreign country is involved.

Maryland became the most recent state to jump on the Israel bandwagon last week. Currently 22 state legislatures have passed various laws confronting boycotts of Israel because of its human rights abuses, in many cases initiating economic penalties on those organizations and individuals or denying state funds to colleges and universities that allow boycott advocates to operate freely on campus.

When governor of South Carolina, current United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, an ardent supporter of Israel, signed the first state law attacking those who support boycotting or sanctioning the Israeli government, the country's state institutions and its businesses. Haley, who is supposed to be defending American interests, has also stated her priority focus will be opposing "the UN's...bias against our close ally Israel."

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Both the recent cases in Kansas and Texas involve state mandates regarding Israel. Both states are, one might note, part of the Bible belt. The anti-boycott legislation was sponsored by powerful Christian Zionist constituencies and passed through the respective legislatures with little debate. In Kansas, Esther Koontz, a Mennonite curriculum coach was fired by the State Department of Education as a teacher trainer because she would not certify in writing that she does not boycott Israel. Koontz's church had passed a resolution in July seeking peace in the Middle East which specifically opposed purchasing products associated with Israel's "military occupation" of Palestine. With the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Koontz is contesting the Kansas government position.

In Dickinson, Texas, in a case which actually made national news, if only briefly, the city is requiring anyone who applies for disaster relief to sign a document that reads "Verification not to Boycott Israel: By executing this Agreement below, the Applicant verifies that the Applicant: (1) does not boycott Israel; and (2) will not boycott Israel during the term of this Agreement." Dickinson was half destroyed by hurricane Harvey last month and urgently needs assistance, but, in the opinion of Texas lawmakers and local officials, deference to Israel comes first. The ACLU is also contesting the Texas legislation.

The Texas law was signed earlier this year and took effect on September 1. In January 2016, Governor Greg Abbott met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who urged Texas to push through the legislation. Abbott responded, and, when signing the bill, commented that "any anti-Israel policy is an 'anti-Texas policy.'" Abbott is reportedly also considering Israeli endorsed legislation that would ban all business dealings on the part of Texas companies with Iran.

One particular pending piece of federal legislation that is also currently making its way through the Senate would far exceed what is happening at the state level and would set a new standard for deference to Israeli interests on the part of the national government. It would criminalize any U.S. citizen "engaged in interstate or foreign commerce" who supports a boycott of Israel or who even goes about "requesting the furnishing of information" regarding it, with penalties enforced through amendments of two existing laws, the Export Administration Act of 1979 and the Export-Import Act of 1945, that include potential fines of between $250,000 and $1 million and up to 20 years in prison.

According to the Jewish Telegraph Agency, the Senate bill was drafted with the assistance of AIPAC. The legislation, which would almost certainly be overturned as unconstitutional if it ever does in fact become law, is particularly dangerous and goes well beyond any previous pro-Israeli legislation as it essentially denies freedom of expression when the subject is Israel.

The movement that is being particularly targeted by the bills at both the state level and also within the federal government is referred to by its acronym as BDS, which is an acronym for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. It is a non-violent reaction to the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land on the West Bank and the continued building of Jewish-only settlements. BDS has been targeted both by the Israeli government and by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The AIPAC website under its lobbying agenda includes the promotion of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act as a top priority.

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The Israeli government and its American supporters particularly fear BDS because it has become quite popular, particularly on university campuses, where administrative steps have frequently been taken to suppress it. The denial of free speech on campus when it relates to Israel has sometimes been referred to as the "Palestinian exception." Nevertheless, the message continues to resonate, due both to its non-violence and human rights appeal. It challenges Israel's arbitrary military rule over three million Palestinians on the West Bank who have onerous restrictions placed on nearly every aspect of their daily lives. And its underlying message is that Israel is a rogue state engaging in actions that are widely considered to be both illegal and immoral, which the Israeli government rightly sees as potentially delegitimizing.

It is disheartening to realize that a clear majority of state legislators and congressmen thinks it is perfectly acceptable to deny all Americans the right to free political expression in order to defend an internationally acknowledged illegal occupation being carried out by a foreign country. Those co-sponsoring the bills include Democrats, Republicans, progressives and conservatives. Deference to Israeli interests is bipartisan and crosses ideological lines. Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Grim, writing at The Intercept, observe that "...the very mention of the word 'Israel' causes most members of both parties to quickly snap into line in a show of unanimity that would make the regime of North Korea blush with envy."

Would that the anti BDS activity were the only examples of pro-Israeli legislation, but there is, unfortunately more. Another bill that might actually have been written by AIPAC is called Senate 722, Countering Iran's Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017. The bill mandates that "Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and every 2 years thereafter, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Director of National Intelligence shall jointly develop and submit to the appropriate congressional committees a strategy for deterring conventional and asymmetric Iranian activities and threats that directly threaten the United States and key allies in the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond."

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Philip Giraldi is the executive director of the Council for the National Interest and a recognized authority on international security and counterterrorism issues. He is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served eighteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. Mr. Giraldi was awarded an MA and PhD from the University of London in European History and holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honors from the University of Chicago. He speaks Spanish, Italian, German, and Turkish. His columns on terrorism, intelligence, and security issues regularly appear in The American Conservative magazine, Huffington Post, and antiwar.com. He has written op-ed pieces for the Hearst Newspaper chain, has appeared on "Good Morning America," MSNBC, National Public Radio, and local affiliates of ABC television. He has been a keynote speaker at the Petroleum Industry Security Council annual meeting, has spoken twice at the American Conservative Union's annual CPAC convention in Washington, and has addressed several World Affairs Council affiliates. He has been interviewed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the British Broadcasting Corporation, Britain's Independent Television Network, FOX News, Polish National Television, Croatian National Television, al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya, 60 Minutes, and other international and domestic broadcasters.


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