Pro-Israel Clause Added To Trade Debate Unanimously

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Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) chairs the Senate Finance Committee that passed the little-noticed amendment. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

U.S. lawmakers are quietly advancing legislation that would penalize international participation in the growing movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction (BDS) Israel for human rights abuses against Palestinians.

With little notice, anti-BDS directives were injected into the “Fast Track” legislation that passed the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday night, despitebroad opposition to the bill, which gives the administration of President Barack Obama authority to ram though so-called “free trade” deals.

An amendment, included in the bill and sponsored by Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), stipulates that, as a principle of trade negotiations, the U.S. should put pressure on other countries not to engage in BDS against Israel of any kind, including refusal to do business with settlements.

The passed amendment has not yet been made public, but Josh Ruebner, policy director for the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, told Common Dreams that Cardin’s office confirmed that the language was based on the Senate legislation S.619, which states:

To include among the principal trade negotiating objectives of the United States regarding commercial partnerships trade negotiating objectives with respect to discouraging activity that discourages, penalizes, or otherwise limits commercial relations with Israel, and for other purposes.

“They tried to sneak it through,” said Ruebner, explaining that the Campaign only found out about the legislation late Monday afternoon through “happenstance.”

According to Ruebner, the legislation is a “centerpiece” of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) policy agenda and likely targets theTransatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement, currently under negotiation between the United States and European Union, which would also be affected by Fast Track legislation.

“This is putting pressure on the U.S. Trade Representative and whoever else is doing the negotiating to discourage attempts to enforce the European Union’s guidelines of not doing business with Israeli settlements,” he said.

This federal push is not only taking place in the Senate.

A similar piece of legislation was submitted last month to the House Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. The United States-Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act (H.R. 825) would require the U.S., in trade agreements, to “discourage politically motivated actions to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel and to seek the elimination of politically motivated non-tariff barriers on Israeli commerce.”

The potential implications of such legislation extend far beyond the ongoing negotiations with the EU, as its language refers to all trade agreements.

Furthermore, it appears to be part of a nation-wide strategy to pass legislation at the state and federal level to criminalize the call for BDS, which emerged from Palestinian civil society organizations in 2005 in a bid to win self-determination and freedom from occupation, using tactics similar to those levied to transform apartheid South Africa.

The U.S.-based organization Jewish Voice for Peace released a statement on Thursday condemning the advance of the legislation in the Senate: “From South Africa to the grape boycott to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) tactics have been essential tools used to create a more just society.”

But some say that the legislative push at the national level may, in fact, be an indication of the growing power of BDS movements.

Rabbi Joseph Berman, federal policy organizer for JVP, declared, “This legislation, which actually encourages illegal settlement building while strengthening the far right in Israel, shows that BDS is an increasingly powerful means to challenge Israel’s impunity when it comes to Palestinian rights.”

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  • Southernfink

    Here’s that double standard again – when it suits the member corporations they will sue nations for subsidizing local renewable energies, US – China windfarms – Solar panel manufacturers In Canada to Solar farms in India on the basis that it’s considered ”protectionist”

    To covertly include a clause to prevent nations boycotting Israel is nothing but protectionist.

    The inclusion of this anti boycott clause allows Israel to continue her atrocities against Palestinians.

    Well done Neo-Cons — All the more reasons to oppose the TPP / TTIP on humanitarian grounds.

  • Bighead1883

    Israel has almost finished the complete takeover of the USA
    It declared war on the USA in Dec 1913 and took over the Nations right to print their own money and be fiscally Sovereign
    They also took over the IRS so that workers paid for the tax breaks of the rich
    They have totally laid bare a once great Nation and impoverished half of it`s citizens
    They have off shored manufacturing and jobs
    The American dream is a lie and the fiat currency criminals have to be brought to justice [Iceland style]
    The fraud committed since December 1913 has to be prosecuted and all proceeds of these crimes be seized forthwith
    Otherwise all this takeover is to achieve is to be the US Military of the Zionist Globalisation
    Bibi showed Congress who was the Leader of the World

  • AlanMacDonald

    Well this should get the corrupt fucking “US lawmaking” pricks some pretty easy and ‘large’ campaign bribes for the 2016 selection race between the neocon ‘R’ Vichy party pricks and the neoliberal-con ‘D’ Vichy party dicks, eh?

  • AlanMacDonald

    Well, what the hell. Why should I get upset about this little thingy?

    After all, it’s just the metropole of the Disguised Global Capitalist Empire, AKA ‘Vichy America’ trying to protect the best little ‘border-fort’ of the Disguised Global Capitalist Empire, AKA ‘Vichy Israel’.

    What the hell is wrong with different parts of the Disguised Global Capitalist Empire having each others’ back, eh? Or should I say, “Having each others’ SIX” as the CIA and JSOC guys like to say.

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  • Another AIPAC toady doing what they paid him to do.

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  • dluch

    Pat Buchanan said it best: “The US Congress is Israeli occupied territory”

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  • Albert Griggs

    A “global economy” PRESUPPOSES Global WAGES.
    You, your children’s Standard of Living will be equalized to that of Chinese and Indian workers.
    The treasonous Trans Pacific Partnership Treaty will lock it into LAW.
    THANK YOUR POLITICIANS.You/Yours will be working for Bangladeshi wages.
    How did NAFTA workout for you?
    YOUR standard of living is being destroyed by “your” representatives.
    You were told “Communists” were a DEADLY ENEMY because
    they were going to take your JOBS, your HOMES, your WAY of LIFE ……………..
    “Sir the “Free Trade” argument may be reduced to the absurd quite easily. Suppose Mars was inhabited by superior beings. They could build every product we use, every thing we consume for next to nothing. Say a wonderful car for one dollar. A house for five dollars. Of course they would need nothing we could produce. What would be the result of “Free Trade” with these people? “Free Trade” is being brought to you by people who wish to destroy the US. Does this include our “Leadership”. Of course. “

  • ThePurpleCrab

    Undemocratic crap to put lipstick on the pig of Israeli apartheid.

  • Albert Griggs

    Why does no one ever point out that INCOME is not WAGES or PAY. INCOME is the dividends, interest, CAPITAL GAINS, on stocks and investments and as such, true INCOME is what is SUPPOSED to be taxed. NOT WAGES.

  • Albert Griggs

    What is good for Israel should be good for America. NO “dual citizen” allowed in government. Israel: Three dual-citizen MKs ordered to annul their foreign passports
    by Shahar Ilan – Haaretz – Feb18 2009
    The Central Elections Committee has ordered three Knesset members with dual citizenship to annul their foreign passports by next Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony, or at least begin steps to cancel them.
    The three lawmakers are Yohanan Plesner of Kadima (who has Danish citizenship), Nitzan Horowitz of Meretz (a Polish citizen) and Yisrael Beiteinu’s Anastasia Michaeli, who holds a Russian passport. The Basic Law on the Knesset states that “a member of Knesset holding an additional citizenship that is not Israeli … will not take the oath of loyalty until he has done everything he can to relinquish it.” –
    Nobody can have loyalty to TWO Nations at the same time. SO nobody with “dual citizenship” should be allowed to hold ANY post in OUR government.

  • desertspeaks

    Israel’s bribed and blackmailed puppets in the US gvt are capitulating to their MASTERS demands!

  • Jake Frizzell

    Anyone ever notice that ‘boy tiddlers’ overwhelmingly support i$rael and the ‘globalists’?

  • Jake Frizzell

    Hang Hatch and all like minded people from lamp posts asap. Synagogues across America will ceasest to exist… tomorrow.

  • Jim

    Doug Stanhope says it best

  • The very negotiations which have been held in total secrecy amount IMO to treason and sedition.

    No matter where, all politicians are under oath of office, they’re expected to be loyal to the nation that employs them, not some corporation with a for profit motive and a greed that would make a billionaire blush.

    It’s not just the US, this is happening all over the planet, it’s been likened to a global corporate coupe d etat, and not for nothing.

    There is a whole canasta of FTA’s waiting to be rammed through various governments.

    Doing secret deals that are ultimately designed for the economic benefit of the transnational investment class could never be regarded as beneficial to the electorate.

    I fail to see how they’re upholding their oath of office when negotiating deals that are not exactly intended with the best interest of the respective member nations plus the well being of the electorate they’ve sworn an oath to protect.

    But I understand that after their time in public office is over, the next most lucrative career opportunity will be found in the corporate sector.

    Being in Government has simply become a steppingstone, some simply end up on the lucrative talking circuit, or as advisers.

    In a years time, it’s a pretty safe bet that the financial elite will have become richer still.

    It’s all about removing obstacles to economic growth…..for the investment class.

  • mick

    Israel is not a member of TPPA so have NO place in it!