Photo Credit: screen capture
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)

Last spring and summer, many pro-Israel Americans were shocked to find out that their own congressional representatives, despite claiming to be pro-Israel, pledged to support the Nuclear Iran Deal.

We know how that went – nearly all Democrats in Congress either readily agreed to abandon their commitment to global – and especially Israel’s – security, or succumbed to enormous pressure and ultimately caved, claiming the Nuclear Iran Deal, while not perfect, was worthy of their support.


Many members of Congress — unable to say with a straight face that the Iran deal was actually “good” — twisted themselves into pretzels trying to justify a position supporting the agreement. Given the high priority assigned to the Iran Deal by President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry as emblematic of their political legacies, the pressure to fall in line on this vote must have been staggering.

But now there is another chance for elected federal officials to demonstrate their pro-Israel bona fides, one with much lower stakes for the administration, although that won’t stop it from lobbying against the proposed measure.

In this case it would be hard to understand how a legislator who claims to be pro-Israel could justify any position other than support for the bill introduced by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), on Monday, Feb. 1. That is, unless one is comfortable with being cast as hostile to Israeli Jews and more favorably disposed to Palestinian Arabs.


The proposed measure, S.2474, was introduced to override this Administration’s latest stealth anti-Israel move: a promise to start strictly enforcing a nearly 20 year administrative agency regulation — never enforced until now, and with good reason — that bans the use of the word “Israel” to denote the source of origin for products produced in the disputed territories: Judea and Samaria (as those areas are called by those interested in  historical accuracy).

The areas are referred to, and the labeling permitted, as the “West Bank” and “Gaza” by those so hell-bent on enforcing a Two State Solution they are willing to overlook the fact that there is not as yet any state of Palestine, nor is the West Bank any more real a “country of origin” notation for the area in dispute than is Israel.


Cotton’s bill would amend the underlying statute to incorporate what the 1997 regulation allowed, that is, the designation for “West Bank” and “Gaza,” but it would also permit the designation of “Israel” for items produced in Jewish communities in those areas. What it accomplishes, is throwing out a regulation – something decided upon by administrative agencies, not elected officials – and instead incorporates the myriad regulations into comprehensive, and more balanced, legislation.

The bill was referred on Monday to the Senate Finance Committee.


So far, only a pitifully small number of U.S. senators care enough about Israel to attach their names to this legislation which is merely an effort to prevent the U.S. from enforcing a boycott against Israeli goods, and every one who has stood up for Israel so far is a Republican.

As of Thursday, Feb. 4, three co-sponsors have joined on to the bill, in addition to Cotton, who is the original sponsor. Those three are Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO).

People have been claiming for some time that the Democratic party has abandoned Israel. So far, at least with respect to S.2474, that’s true, although it’s also true that not many Republicans have as yet signed on either.

Unless legislators hear from their constituents, they may think this issue is unimportant. Israel certainly does not think so. Neither should pro-Israel Americans.


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Lori Lowenthal Marcus is a contributor to the A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email:


  1. Thank you Ms.Lori Lowenthal Marcus, for supporting Israel. The bill S. 2474 to be introduced by Sen. Tom Cotton
    (R-AR), Can you clarify where Sen. Chuck Schumer stands with regard to this bill. Can you direct me to a listing which can be forwarded to my readers to enable us to tell our representatives in Washington no to support the boycott of products coming from the land of Israel. Please email me at Thank you Manny Vider

  2. Israel's a political football. The President is firmly anti-Israel, as are many on the extreme Left. However, the center and right are firmly pro-Israel, reflecting the 60% of Americans who support Israel.

    Sen. Cotton's bill is reasonable enough, but if Democrats back it, they might appear to be favoring the Republican agenda, so they're being quiet. Everyone should definitely write to their representatives to push this bill forward. In reality it's not a Democrat versus Republican issue; it's a democracy issue. Israel is a democracy and we should support her, plain and simple.

  3. I think it's telling that the author of this bill and its cosponsors are all Republicans. Supporting Israel should be based on morality not politics. One of the first things I look at when deciding if I should vote for someone is their voting record in regards to Israel. If they don't support Israel, they don't get my vote, it's that simple. Talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words.

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