The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) strongly praises Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rob Portman (R-OH) for sponsoring the bipartisan United States-Israel Trade Enhancement Act of 2015 (S.619) and Congressman Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Juan Vargas (D-Cal) for sponsoring the United States-Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act of 2015 (HR.825). In addition, ZOA strongly praises HR.825’s thirty-seven co-sponsors listed below. ZOA also praises Senators Cardin and Portman for annexing this anti-boycott legislation as an amendment to a bill currently in the Senate Finance Committee.
ZOA National President Morton Klein and ZOA Director of Special Projects Elizabeth Berney, Esq. stated:
“The proposed legislation is an excellent, important step to counteract the tide of vicious, discriminatory boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) directed at Jews and Israel and Israel’s American and other trading partners. The bills are also very praiseworthy for condemning boycotts targeted at Israeli-controlled territories.”
There is a growing recognition of the dangers of BDS and the harm that BDS causes. Israeli Supreme Court Justice Hanan Meltzer recently called BDS “political terrorism.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that those who engage in BDS against Jews and Israel “want to see the end of the Jewish state” and are “classical anti-Semites in modern garb.” Israeli opposition leader and former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni stated that boycotts “undermine positive relations.” BDS harms peaceful co-existence in the Middle East, harms hardworking Jews who are simply trying to earn a livelihood for their families, and causes hardworking Arabs to lose well-paying jobs.
In addition, ZOA strongly praises the Tennessee General Assembly for just passing a resolution, virtually unanimously, that declares that BDS is “one of the main vehicles for spreading anti-Semitism and advocating the elimination of the Jewish state,” and that BDS activities “undermine the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, which they are fulfilling in the State of Israel.”
BDS is such a grave concern that the ZOA believes that even more should be done to strengthen the anti-boycott bills, S.619 and HR.825 and/or any amendments incorporating these bills. Specifically:
1. The anti-boycott bills should specifically include a private right of action, which enables those harmed by anti-Jewish, anti-Israel boycotts to sue the boycotters for damages. The bills are now silent regarding a private right of action.
2. While the anti-boycott bills call for the elimination of the Arab League Boycott of Israel, the bills only call for “discouraging” boycotts initiated against Jews and Israel by NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and other entities.
All forms of discriminatory anti-Israel anti-Jewish boycotts should be eliminated.
3. The anti-boycott bills should include strong enforcement mechanisms and penalties, including revoking the 501(c)(3) tax exempt status of organizations that participate in and promote anti-Israel and/or anti-Jewish boycotts.
4. In addition, tax-exempt entities should be required to state on their Form 990 tax reporting forms whether they engage in anti-Israel and/or anti-Jewish boycotts.
ZOA also notes that J Street announced its opposition to the bipartisan anti-boycott bills, once again proving that J Street is hostile to Israel and the Israeli-American relationship.
The praiseworthy bipartisan co-sponsors of HR.825 (in addition to sponsors Congressmen Roskam and Vargas) include:
Steve Stivers (R-OH), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Paul Cook (R-Cal), Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Randy Weber, Sr. (R-TX), David Schweikert (R-AZ), Mark Meadows (R-NC), Bob Gibbs (R-OH), Brian Babin (R-TX), Patrick Murphy (D-Fla), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Trent Frants (R-AZ), Austin Scott (R-GA), Stevan Pearce (R-NM), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Chris Collins (R-NY), David McKinley (R-WV), Tim Walberg (R-MI), Kevin Yoder (R-KS), Peter King (R-NY), Ron DeSantis (R-Fla), Luke Messer (R-IN), Tom Emmer (R-MN), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Bradley Byrne (R-AL), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla), Earl “Buddy” Carter (R-GA), Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Susan Brooks (R-IN), Candice Miller (R-MI) and Daniel Webster (R-Fla).
ZOA urges everyone to call their representatives and key sponsors and co-sponsors of the bill to thank them for their support and to urge them to vote for and further strengthen this legislation.
Some key phone numbers:
Senator Cardin’s office: (202) 224-4524
Other Democratic Senators on the Senate Finance Committee should also be asked to support this legislation:
Sen. Ron Wyden, Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee: (202) 224-5244
Sen. Sherrod Brown: (202) 224-2315
Sen. Maria Cantwell: (202) 224-3441
Sen. Mark Warner: (202) 224-2023