The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement has gained traction in the past few years, sparking many public and private institutions to withdraw investments from Israeli products and firms, citing human rights violations by the Israeli government. Although the boycott movement mirrors boycotts against apartheid South Africa in many ways, it has faced heavy opposition with entrenched pro-Israel politicians. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) published the following press release on his website ahead of a statement by leading senate democrats supporting a bill the would ban politically motivated boycotts against Israel:
Washington, D.C. – “In recent years, we have seen some of our trading partners engage in a number of politically-motivated, misguided commercial boycotts and sanctions against Israel. We also have witnessed increased pressure, including on U.S. entities, to divest from certain Israeli investments. In the past several months, some of our trading partners have dismissed new rules furthering the so-called BDS movement as mere consumer awareness. But the rise in the BDS movement correlates with growing anti-Semitism around the globe. Therefore, it is critical that we address this issue.
“We included language in the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA) and the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (Customs) that discourages our trading partners from taking politically-motivated commercial actions against Israel. Such actions run counter to longstanding U.S. policy opposing politically-motivated boycotts of, divestments from, or sanctions against Israel and it is incumbent upon the United States to use every diplomatic tool to stop our trading partners from imposing such misguided actions. Moreover, such policy has long been reflected in the U.S. – Israel Free Trade Agreement, which does not distinguish tariff treatment among products based on whether they were produced in Israeli territories.
“While the Obama Administration has reiterated its opposition to boycotts, divestment campaigns, and sanctions targeting the State of Israel, it has mischaracterized the TPA and Customs bill provisions as making a U.S. policy statement about Israeli settlements. This simply is not the case. These provisions are not about Israeli settlements. Rather, consistent with U.S. policy, they are about discouraging politically-motivated commercial actions aimed at delegitimizing Israel and pressuring Israel into unilateral concessions outside the bounds of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. We urge the Administration to implement these provisions as enacted and intended.”
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