By Hannah Levin
On Thursday, September 22, a prominent delegation of Jewish leaders from across the nation, who comprise the United States – Israel Security Alliance – an initiative dedicated to strengthening the U.S.-Israeli relationship, gathered on Capitol Hill to thank leading and influential members of both the Senate and the House for supporting legislation to combat the anti-Israel BDS movement.
The mission was organized by Ezra Friedlander, CEO of The Friedlander Group, and chaired by Joseph Stamm, CEO of Med Review; Stanley Treitel; Dr. Alan Kadish, President of Touro College; Nathan Herzog, President of Royal Wine Corp. and Kedem Food Products; Andrew Friedman, Esq.; Duvi Honig, founder and CEO of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce; and Mark M. Appel.
The delegation met with over a dozen members of congress including: Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine); Senator Steve Daines (R-Montana); Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas); Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah); Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland); and Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina).
On the House side, the group was joined in discussion by Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Texas); Rep. Billy Long (R-Missouri); Rep. Tom McClintock (R-California); Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio); Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Florida); Rep. Andy Barr (R-Kentucky); Rep. Brad Sherman (D-California); and Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colorado).
As BDS continues to advocate for the boycotting of Israeli products and goods, this mission came at a critical time. These boycotts have come in many forms, including, but not limited to: anti-Israel protests calling for boycotts, calls for divestment from certain Israeli products, and resolutions for universities to divest from Israeli companies. The anti-Israel BDS sentiment is seeping into corporate boardrooms and trade unions, with a growing trend in Europe to ban or label products made in Israeli settlements. Due to this movement, there have been disruptions of Israeli cultural events, pressure to cancel events with cultural figures in Israel, as well as strong efforts to gain support for BDS from important religious institutions. The BDS movement, while claiming peace, will not stop until Israel is on her knees.
Senator Cruz summed up the danger of the BDS movement by stating, “BDS is like a plague … of anti-Israel and anti-Semitism…In my view, we should be using every tool we have to stand up with Israel, to stand against BDS.” He continued, “U.S. support for Israel isn’t benevolence, our interests are intertwined. It is in the United States’ national-security interests to have a strong Israel fighting the same enemies we are fighting in the United States.”
Missions like this one convey a clear message to the United States Congress that it is imperative to condone the BDS movement and limit its ability to continue its effort to delegitimize Israel. A key way of doing so is by passing legislation, both on the federal and state level.
Coming on the heels of successful efforts by a number of state legislatures to pass or consider such legislation, the significance of this mission was increased. As Senator Susan Collins stated after hearing from members of the delegation, “If federal legislation could be passed, then you don’t have to fight the same battles over and over again in all 50 states.”