The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized Democratic Congress members for holding up passage of legislation that would impose fresh sanctions on Syria, boost security cooperation between Israel and Jordan and deal with the machinations of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement which, as admitted by its originators, aims for the ostracism and eventual elimination of the Jewish state of Israel and Jewish political independence.
While four Senate Democrats voted for cloture, the procedure that ends debate and initiates a vote, most did not, resulting in a vote of 53-43, seven short of the 60 votes required. Democrats have objected to moving legislation forward due to the partial government shutdown that has lasted 19 days due to an impasse between U.S. President Donald Trump and Democrats over $5.6 billion in funding for a barrier along the U.S./Mexico border.
Additionally, some Democrats, including Independent Bernie Sanders, who caucuses with the Democrats, object to the anti-BDS legislation and urge no action on any legislation that doesn’t concern reopening the government. Thus, Senator Sanders tweeted, “It’s absurd that the first bill during the shutdown is legislation which punishes Americans who exercise their constitutional right to engage in political activity. Democrats must block consideration of any bills that don’t reopen the government.” But Sanders is totally wrong, BDS legislation is not a freedom of speech issue- entities boycotting Israel can still say anything they want against Israel.
In short, these Democratic legislators are using the government shutdown as an excuse to hold up passage of bills that would enable state and local governments to combat the BDS movement.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We are deeply critical of the stance adopted by those Democratic legislators who are holding up important legislation that affects both U.S. assistance to Middle East allies, including Israel, and which combats the vicious BDS movement.
“The BDS movement is not merely critical of Israeli government policies, but seeks to end Israel as the sovereign state of the Jewish people. It insists on another Palestinian Arab state (in addition to the already existing state of Jordan) but seeks to deprive the Jews of the sovereignty and independence they insist upon for Palestinian Arabs.
“Many of the BDS groups are deeply anti-Semitic, like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which has been shown by a detailed study undertaken by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs entitled, ‘Students for Justice in Palestine Unmasked,’ to ‘undertake initiatives to isolate, demonize, and ultimately destroy the state of Israel,’ is ‘affiliate[ed] with Arab and Islamic terror groups, is overtly anti-Semitic, incites hatred and violence against Jewish students, and rejects the existence of the state of Israel in any borders.’
“It is wrong to hold up important legislation dealing with BDS, holding it hostage to the resolution of the stand-off between the President and Congressional Democrats over the funding for the barrier along the U.S./Mexico border and the government shutdown.
“Passage of these bills would in no way affect the resolution of this problem and are for that reason alone wrongfully held up by Congressional Democrats.
“The ZOA acknowledges and praises the sound judgment shown by those Democratic senators –– Krysten Sinema (D–AZ), Doug Jones (D–AL), Joe Manchin (D–WV) and Robert Menendez (D–NJ) –– who voted for cloture so that two these bills could be voted up immediately.”