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Posts Tagged ‘Pete Roskam’

Obama Won’t Enforce Anti-BDS Provision Language in Trade Bill he just Signed

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

This week the United States officially put on notice its trade partners that it will not countenance boycotts or other economic warfare against Israel.

After signing the relevant trade legislation into law, however, the White House signaled to all its trade partners that they are still free to boycott goods made in the disputed territories, despite the clear language of the legislation the president signed.

This week the Trade Promotion Authority bill was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama.

The TPA is primarily focused on international trade between the U.S. and Europe. It also included a section which addresses trade between the U.S. and Israel.

That part of the legislation, the U.S.-Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act, bans boycotts and other means of economic warfare against Israel or the “Israeli-controlled territories.” This amendment, introduced by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill-6) with bi-partisan co-sponsorship, was unanimously adopted into the PTA in April.

The passage of the TPA, including the anti-BDS section, should sound a death knell for the BDS (Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel) Movement. It should.

However, as pro-Israel Americans and Israelis learned only a few weeks ago in the Jerusalem passport case (Zivotofsky v. Kerry), there are certain spheres of international decision making over which the president has exclusive, or at least primary and controlling, control. Obama claims that international trade is one of those areas, even though Article 1, Section 8, clause 3, expressly gives Congress the power to regulate foreign commerce.

So even though the TPA is intended to act as a strong deterrent to European and other countries to pass and enforce boycotts of Israeli products, the White House has already signaled that it will not extend its protection to any goods produced in the disputed territories.

The anti boycott of Israel language in the TPA is: “actions by states, nonmember states of the United Nations, international organizations or affiliated agencies of international organizations that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize or otherwise limit commercial relations specifically with Israel or persons doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories.” [emphasis added.]

In a statement which Matt Lee of the Associated Press attributed to State Dept. spokesperson John Kirby, the administration made clear that despite signing the TPA, the position of the White House remains, as it has been, that the U.S. opposes boycotts of the State of Israel, but it also opposes the presence of Jews in the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights.

In the statement the administration argues that by “conflating Israel and ‘Israeli-controlled territories’ a provision of the Trade Promotion Authority legislation runs counter to longstanding U.S. policy towards the occupied territories, including with regard to settlement activity,” and says that every U.S. administration has opposed “settlement activity.”

It goes on to point out 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.”

The U.S. administration announced that it will not jeopardize the holy grail of the two-state solution by enforcing the U.S. law as written and which its leader signed. In the statement it 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.” It is on this basis, ostensibly to promote a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, that this administration

Professor Eugene Kontorovich of the Northwestern University School of Law analyzes several other provisions of the U.S-Israel trade aspect of the TPA which have been largely overlooked. In particular, Kontorovich points out, U.S. courts cannot recognize or enforce the judgment of any foreign court “that doing business in or being based in the West Bank or Golan Heights violates international law or particular European rules.”

 

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Congressional Letter: Academic Boycott of Israel is ‘Thinly Veiled Bigotry’

Friday, January 10th, 2014

PLEASE NOTE TWO UPDATES AT THE END OF THIS ARTICLE

Dozens of members of the U.S. House of Representatives are busily circulating a request to their colleagues, asking them to sign on to a letter to the leadership of the American Studies Association. That letter condemns the ASA for singling out Israel as the focus of its wrath and for instituting an academic boycott of the Jewish State.

The bi-partisan letter, written and signed by two Democrats and two Republicans, is addressed to Prof. Curtis Marez, current president of the ASA. Marez is a member of the ethnic studies department at the University of California, San Diego.

Marez was famously caught by surprise when a reporter asked him why the ASA was singling out Israel, when there are so many other countries involved in far more serious allegations of human rights abuses. Perhaps the questioner was picturing some countries where the very lives of academics are endangered simply for their thoughts or writings. Oh, places like China, North Korea, Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia spring quickly to mind.

But Marez simply answered: “We have to start somewhere.” Right.

The congressional representatives taking the lead on this initiative are House members Peter Roskam (IL-6)(R), Ted Deutch (FL-21)(D), Doug Collins (GA-9)(R) and Bradley S. Schneider (IL-10)(D). Members of Congress from nearly 20 states have already signed on.

The letter itself is strong and unquivocal. It starts out by informing the ASA that the congressional members – as of the time this article was written, representatives from 17 states had already affixed their names – “write in strong opposition” to the ASA’s decision “to blacklist Israeli academic institutions for Israeli government policies with which the ASA disagrees represents a blatant disregard for academic freedom.”

The congressional letter not only condemns the ASA’s boycott of Israel on the grounds of academic freedom, it also denounces it for singling out a single country – Israel, the only Jewish state – for punishment by the ASA when there are so many states engaging in brutal repression of its citizens, including its students and academics, yet about which the ASA remains silent.

Even more concerning is the singular targeting of Israel for boycott. Like all democracies, Israel is not perfect. But to single out Israel, while leaving relationships with universities in autocratic and repressive countries intact, suggests thinly-veiled bigotry and bias against the Jewish State. This morally dishonest double standard has already been rejected by well over 100 university presidents, with several member universities even withdrawing from the organization in protest.

William A. Jacobson, a professor at Cornell Law School, wrote about the congressional letter at Legal Insurrection.  Jacobson said that the members of congress intended to send the letter once they obtained approximately 50 signatures, evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.

In an email to The Jewish Press, Jacobson explained that those taking the lead on the ASA letter intend to gain as many signatures as possible. He also noted that people were signing on very quickly, “they gained six more names in the space of one-half hour as I was communicating with them.”

“It is not surprising that Congress has taken note given the discriminatory and factually baseless nature of the boycott,” Jacobson wrote. “We will see if Congress takes any action beyond a denunciation.”

Within hours of the letter being circulated, 32 additional members of congress asked to have their names included on the letter.

As of the time this article was published, the signatories included:

Michele Bachmann MN-6 (R), Corrine Brown FL-5 (D), Doug Collins GA-9 (R), Ted Deutch FL-21 (D), Jeff Duncan S-C3

 (R), Eliot Engel NY-16
 (D), Trent Franks AZ-8

 (R), Richard Hudson  NC-8 (R), David Joyce  OH-14 (R), Mike Kelly  PA-3 (R), Peter King NY-2 (R), Doug Lamborn  CO-5 (R), Leonard Lance NJ-7
 (R), Sander Levin MI-9 (D), Tom Marino PA-10

 (R), Betty McCollum MN-4 (D), Grace Meng NY-6

 (D), Patrick Murphy FL-18 (D), Gary Peters MI-14
 (D), Mike Quigley IL-5

 (D), Peter Roskam
 IL-6 (R ), Matt Salmon AZ-5 (R), Adam Schiff  CA-28
 (D), Brad Schneider
 IL-10 (D), Brad Sherman CA 30 (D), Steve Stivers  OH-15

 (R), Eric Swalwell CA-15
 (D), Patrick Tiberi  OH-12

 (R), Dina Titus NV-1 (D), Juan Vargas CA-51
 (D), Tim Walberg  MI-7
 (R), Jackie WalorskiR IN-2 (R), Debbie Wasserman Schultz FL-23, (D) Henry Waxman CA-33 (D), Randy Weber Tx-14 (R), Kevin Yoder  KS-3 (R)

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/congressional-letter-academic-boycott-of-israel-is-thinly-veiled-bigotry/2014/01/10/

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