U.S. Lawmakers Seek to Criminally Outlaw Support for Boycott Campaign Against Israel

(Talk about “collusion”)

from The Intercept

The criminalization of political speech and activism against Israel has become one of the gravest threats to free speech in the west. In France, activists have been arrested and prosecuted for wearing t-shirts advocating a boycott of Israel. The U.K. has enacted a series of measures designed to outlaw such activism. In the U.S., governors compete with one another over who can implement the most extreme regulations to bar businesses from participating in any boycotts aimed even at Israeli settlements, which the world regards as illegal. On U.S. campuses, punishment of pro-Palestinian students for expressing criticisms of Israel is so commonplace that the Center for Constitutional Rights refers to it as “the Palestine Exception” to free speech.

But now, a group of 43 Senators – 29 Republicans and 14 Democrats – want to implement a law that would make it a felony for Americans to support the international boycott against Israel, which was launched in protest of that country’s decades-old occupation of Palestine. The two primary sponsors of the bill are Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio. Perhaps the most shocking aspect is the punishment: anyone guilty of violating its prohibitions will face a minimum civil penalty of $250,000, and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.

The proposed measure, called the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S. 720), was introduced by Cardin on March 23. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports that the bill “was drafted with the assistance of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC].” Indeed, AIPAC, in its 2017 Lobbying Agenda, identified passage of this bill as one of its top lobbying priorities for the year:

The bill’s co-sponsors include the senior Democrat in Washington, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, his New York colleague Kirsten Gillibrand, and several of the Senate’s more liberal members, such as Ron Wyden of Oregon, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Maria Cantwell of Washington. Illustrating the bipartisanship that AIPAC typically summons, it also includes several of the most right-wing Senators such as Ted Cruz of Texas, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Marco Rubio of Florida.

A similar measure was introduced in the House on the same date by two Republicans and one Democrat. It already has amassed 234 co-sponsors: 63 Democrats and 174 Republicans. As in the Senate, AIPAC has assembled an impressive ideological diversity among supporters, predictably including many of the most right-wing House members –  Jason Chaffetz, Liz Cheney, Peter King – along with the second-ranking Democrat in the House, Steny Hoyer.

Among the co-sponsors of the bill are several of the politicians who have become political celebrities by positioning themselves as media leaders of the anti-Trump #Resistance, including three California House members who have become heroes to Democrats and staples of the cable news circuit: Ted Lieu, Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell. These politicians, who have built a wide public following by posturing as opponents of authoritarianism, are sponsoring one of the most oppressive and authoritarian bills that has pended before Congress in quite some time

This pernicious bill highlights many vital yet typically ignored dynamics in Washington. First, journalists love to lament the lack of bipartisanship in Washington, yet 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. Even when virtually the entire world condemns Israeli aggression, or declares settlements illegal, the U.S. Congress – across party and ideological lines – finds virtually complete harmony in uniting against the world consensus and in defense of the Israeli government

AIPAC continues to be one of the most powerful, and pernicious, lobbying forces in the country. In what conceivable sense is it of benefit of Americans to turn them into felons for the crime of engaging in political activism in protest of a foreign nation’s government?..

[read more here]

Bernie Sanders Gives Tepid/Measured Speech on Israeli/Palestinian Conflict (video and partial transcript)

by Scott Creighton

UPDATE: For comparison purposes, you can read the transcript of Donald Trump’s war-mongering, sycophantic pandering speech to AIPAC, here.

Bernie Sanders politely declined an invitation to speak at this year’s AIPAC convention in D.C. yesterday. The other presidential candidates went there and pandered to the Likudnik Lobby as if their professional lives depended on it, slandering everyone from Iran to Palestinian children “being taught to hate” the Jewish state for no other reason than… Muslims.

Bernie gave a lengthy stump speech in Utah then he gave a little press conference type address in which he delivered what he claims would have been his AIPAC speech. It is notable for a number of reasons but the most obvious is… he chose not to give it to the AIPAC crowd… which probably would have booed him off the stage if he gave it there or physically dragged him off the stage, exposing AIPAC and it’s rabid followers for what it and they really are.

So, was his decision to give this speech half a country away a decision he made in his best interests or in theirs? Hard too say. My guess is “both”

I have copied part of the transcript of his speech from his website and posted the full video below my comments.

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It’s AIPAC Day in America!!!

by Scott Creighton

Do we have an American Canada Public Affairs Committee? Do we have an American Ireland Public Affairs Committee? An American Guam one? Nope.

But we do have American Israel Public Affairs Committee, known as AIPAC, and today all our presidential candidates save one are rushing over to D.C. to attend their annual conference to swear fealty and their undying love to and for everything Israel.

It has been rumored that Hillary Clinton has been missing from the campaign trail these past few days because she was crawling on her knees to the conference all the way from New York in order to prove her loyalty. That’s just a rumor, of course.

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Charles Freeman Victory

by Justin Raimondo, AntiWar

Freeman's Victory

Freeman's Victory

The nixing of Charles “Chas” Freeman from a post as head of the National Intelligence Council is not, as is commonly averred, a victory for the Israel lobby. It is, instead, a Pyrrhic victory – that is, a victory so costly that it really amounts to a defeat for them. Sure, they managed to keep out a trenchant critic of their Israel-centric and grossly distorted view of a proper American foreign policy, and, yes, they managed to smear him and put others on notice that someone with his views is radioactive, as far as a high-level job in the foreign policy establishment is concerned. And yet – and yet ….

They – the Lobby – have now been forced out in the open. “A lobby,” says Steve Rosen, the ringleader of the “get Freeman” lynch mob, “is like a night flower: it thrives in the dark and dies in the sun.”

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