An exchange on Tuesday between State Dept. Press Office Director Elizabeth Trudeau and a reporter during her daily press briefing, served as a reminder of the vast difference between the ways Obama and Trump officials view sovereignty and a state’s right to defend itself against political enemies from afar.
On Monday, the Knesset plenum passed in a preliminary reading by a vote of 42 to 15 with 7 abstaining an amendment to the Entry into Israel Act banning entry non-Israelis who are members of organizations that promote boycotting the State of Israel.
A reporter, who mentioned that even former Israeli Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni called the bill “McCarthyism,” asked Trudeau to comment on the legislation, and the State Dept. senior official said: “We’re aware of the various reactions to the proposed bill to bar pro-BDS activists from entering Israel. We understand. I’d also note that the legislation requires several more steps before becoming law (a committee debate and two more Knesset plenum votes).”
Trudeau continued: “The United States’ strong opposition to boycott and sanctions of the state of Israel is well-known. However, as a general principle, we value freedom of expression even in cases where we do not agree with the views espoused.”
Of course, the US as well as several American states do not view the BDS movement’s activities in the realm of freedom of expression, but rather as driving a hostile attack on the vital interests of a friendly country. Only this past Monday, Reps. Pete Roskam (R-IL) and Juan Vargas (D-CA) introduced a bipartisan bill imposing criminal penalties on US companies complying with the BDS movement, including the boycott of communities in Judea and Samaria.
There’s no doubt that a broad consensus of American politicians would strongly disagree with Trudeau when she states, as she did Tuesday: “While every country has a right to control its borders, we certainly support the freedom of expression even when we don’t agree with the policy.”
Not really. The US happens to be one of the toughest countries to get into if one is associated with a large number of groups and organizations or is on record as authoring material that is repugnant to the American public — as it well should be. Why should the US, or Israel, or any country for that matter, play gracious host to individuals who wish to see it dead?
Oh, how we’re looking forward to the first State Dept. press briefing in late January, 2017…David Israel