Dem presidential hopefuls vote against anti-BDS bill, as Van Hollen says it will ‘strengthen’ the peaceful BDS movement

Rep. Chris Van Hollen savors his victory at an election night party ( photo: Patrick Semansky / Associated Press )
Although no Senator has come out in support of BDS, progressive Democrats are drawing a line about repressive laws.

By Philip Weiss | Mondoweiss | Jan 30, 2019

Just about every single Senator considering a 2020 run voted no. Democrats most in tune with their base have drawn a clear red line that repressive laws targeting Palestinian rights activism in violation of he first amendment are unacceptable,
—Yousef Munayyer of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights

The Senate is once again debating boycott against Israel today, in a sign that Middle East policy is politicized as never before.

The Senate voted overwhelmingly yesterday, 76 to 22, to proceed forward on S.1, a bill sponsored by Marco Rubio — and AIPAC, the leading Israel lobby group — that encourages states to adopt measures to financially punish “entities using boycotts, divestments, or sanctions to influence Israel’s policies.”

The anti-BDS language is an unconstitutional limitation of free speech, the ACLU has said; state laws aimed at crushing BDS have already cost employment to a number of people of good faith who are opposed to Israeli policies.

The good news is that progressive Democrats drew a line in the sand, and presidential hopefuls voted against the procedural vote. Even though no Senator has come out in support of BDS, many have acknowledged the right of their constituents to counter Israeli actions. In a long speech opposing the bill, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland said in its overreach, the bill will fuel the BDS movement because Americans will insist on their right to “peacefully” protest the Netanyahu government.

“Just about every single Senator considering a 2020 run voted no. Democrats most in tune with their base have drawn a clear red line that repressive laws targeting Palestinian rights activism in violation of he first amendment are unacceptable,” Yousef Munayyer of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights comments. Though he adds: “The real scandal here is that there are 76 Senators that are willing to trample on the Constitution they swore to defend.”

The 22 No votes were all Democrats. The hopefuls are (or are thought to be) Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren.

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