Bernie Sanders’s new plan to force a genuine debate in Congress on Israel

President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands at the Israel museum in Jerusalem on May 23. (Sebastian Scheiner / AP)
Senators Sanders and Feinstein urging Senate leaders to not support the Israel Anti-Boycott Act legislation.

By Paul Waldman| The Washington Post | Dec 19, 2018

The bill would prohibit and penalize certain constitutionally-protected political activity aimed solely at Israeli settlements in the West Bank, thereby extending US legal protection to the very settlements the United States has opposed as illegitimate and harmful to the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace for more than 50 years.

Earlier this week I wrote about the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, a piece of legislation that some Democrats and Republicans are hoping to quietly attach to a budget bill so it can be passed into law. The bill would bar American companies and individuals from participating in certain boycotts of Israel, and, though even its supporters say it would have minimal practical impact, it represents a serious attack on fundamental principles of free speech.

The bill is also part of a broad nationwide movement playing out at both the federal and state level to quash criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud government and its policies toward Palestinians, an effort that Democrats unfortunately have participated in far too often.

Now two senators — Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) — have a plan to try to do something about this. They are coming out against that measure, which could help realize the larger goal of forcing a genuine debate in Congress that does not place such criticism off limits.

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