Congress Can Fight the Boycott Israel Movement

(Wall Street Journal) Peter J. Roskam - The U.S. has a strong history of taking action to dismantle economic boycotts against Israel. In response to the Arab League boycott that started in 1948, Congress enacted legislation in 1976 and 1979 banning U.S. companies from participating. It worked. The boycott had a marginal impact on Israel's economy, and the U.S. Commerce Department still maintains an office to ensure that American companies live up to the law. A leaked document last year revealed high-level discussions among EU member states working to develop economic sanctions intended to pressure Israel to accept political concessions such as ending the blockade of Gaza irrespective of terrorism from Hamas. Congress is currently debating bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation, which stipulates key American objectives in free-trade negotiations with the EU. Included is language I co-authored with Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) instructing U.S. negotiators to discourage our prospective European trade partners from participating in boycott, divestment and sanctions. If these countries want free trade with the U.S., they can't engage in politically motivated boycotts against Israel. These same principles were successfully negotiated into U.S. free-trade agreements with Bahrain and Oman in the mid-2000s, prompting both countries to end their boycotts of Israel. We must not be fooled by those marketing BDS as anything but blatant discrimination against the Jewish state. And we must seize the historic opportunity to push back forcefully against the BDS movement to ensure the strength of the U.S.-Israel relationship. The writer is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (R-Ill.).

2015-05-26 00:00:00

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