The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has praised the U.S. Congress for passing anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) legislation as part of the Trade Promotion Authority legislation. The TPA legislation specifically opposes politically motivated acts that seek to penalize or harm commercial relations “specifically with Israel or people doing business with Israel or Israeli controlled territories” and therefore makes no exemption for BDS activity targeting Jewish businesses and communities in Judea/Samaria.
However, the ZOA has strongly criticized President Obama, who signed this legislation into law, for seeking to disown the clear language of the law by attempting to exempt BDS activity targeting Judea/Samaria. State Department spokesman John Kirby said yesterday that “by conflating Israel and ‘Israeli-controlled territories,’” the amendment “runs counter to long-standing U.S. policy” toward disputed territories claimed by Palestinians.
This means that Obama Administration has clearly stated it will not enforce the anti-boycott language of the Trade Bill it signed with respect to the protection it extends to Jewish enterprises in Judea/Samaria.
Mr. Kirby claimed in support of this position that both Democratic and Republican presidents have consistently opposed Israeli settlement activity in Judea and Samaria. The ZOA believes this argument lacks any merit, since giving aid and comfort to those who would boycott Jewish businesses in Judea/Samaria is very different from merely opposing a particular Israeli policy on Jewish residence in the territory.
It is remarkable that President Obama is punishing Israel for policies he doesn’t like, while he has never taken action nor condemned Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) for vicious pro-terror, anti-peace actions –– Obama has never condemned Abbas for refusing negotiations with Israel for almost the entire term of his presidency; nor for continuing incitement to hatred and murder of Jews in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps; nor for granting pensions to jailed terrorists and families of dead terrorists; nor for the PA’s pursuit of action against Israel in international forums, contrary to the Oslo Accords; and, not even for pursuing non-member statehood at the UN, contrary to stated U.S. policy.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “Mr. Kirby’s statement amounts to the Obama Administration joining the BDS movement, which, as openly admitted by its founders, aims for Israel’s delegitimization and eventual elimination, by refusing to oppose its activities insofar as these pertain to Judea/Samaria.
“Mr. Kirby contends that the “U.S. government has never defended or supported Israeli settlements and activity associated with them and, by extension, does not pursue policies or activities that would legitimize them.” Yes, but this is the first time a U.S. Administration has actively supported efforts to delegitimize and harm them.
“President Obama has parted company from his predecessors in opposing Jewish residence in Judea/Samaria to now actively discriminating against it and trying to harm Jewish residents and businesses.
“BDS activities directed at Judea/Samaria are manifestly ‘targeting the State of Israel,’ which Mr. Kirby claims the Obama Administration ‘strongly opposes’ and ‘will continue to do so.’ The Obama Administration cannot have it both ways.
“With this act, the Obama Administration has disgracefully and deceitfully joined the BDS movement and it deserves the strongest criticism from all pro-Israel groups and citizens.
“Article 1, Section 8, clause 3 of the Constitution expressly gives the Congress the power to regulate foreign commerce. The Obama Administration cannot ignore Congressional legislation and apply only those parts of the legislation it likes.
“Mr. Kirby claims that ‘both parties have long recognized that settlement activity and efforts to change facts on the ground undermine the goal of a two-state solution to the conflict and only make it harder to negotiate a sustainable and equitable peace deal in good faith.’ This is also untrue.
“Jewish residence in Judea and Samaria poses no obstacle to a genuine peace with the Palestinians, should Palestinians be ever ready to conclude one. It is both factually wrong and a moral travesty to argue that people, simply because they are Jews, should not be allowed to move into Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. The call for boycott and pressure upon Israel to stop Jews living in parts of the land of Israel is a disgrace.
“A call for boycott –– and acquiescence in such efforts by President Obama –– is particularly lacking in justification when Palestinians raise their children to aspire to be suicide bombers and to wage a jihad to obliterate the state of Israel.
“This disseminates the lie that Jews have no right to live in these areas, the historical and religious heartland of the Jewish people. And it lends credence to the false notion that peace can be built by making these territories judenrein.
“We call upon Congress and all pro-Israel organizations to demand that the President adhere to the law that Congress passed and which he signed.”