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Urgent: Anti-BDS Bill Up for Vote Tomorrow

by Mike Coogan, Legislative Coordinator
April 21st, 2015

Take Action: Tell Senate Finance Committee You Support BDS

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) praised civil rights-era boycotts but is pushing anti-BDS legislation.  

We just learned that Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) will introduce an anti-BDS amendment to a bill in the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday. While the exact text isn’t public yet, the amendment will be similar to a bill—S.619, the United States-Israel Trade Enhancement Act of 2015—he introduced last month.

Please call Sen. Cardin’s office today at (202) 224-4524 to oppose this legislation (talking points are below).

Cardin’s bill would make it a “principal trade negotiating objective of the United States” to “discourage politically motivated actions” that “limit commercial relations” with Israel and Israeli businesses, including those operating in illegal Israeli colonies in Occupied Palestinian Territory.

This bill is designed to pressure the European Union (EU), which is currently negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) with the United States, to reverse course on the steps it has taken in recent years to oppose Israeli settlements. These include new guidelines preventing entities operating from Israeli-occupied territory from receiving EU funding and a recent push to label settlement products entering the EU.

We need you to take action today to oppose this dangerous effort. Here’s what you can do to help:

If you have one minute, call Sen. Cardin’s office at (202) 224-4524 and state your opposition to his planned amendment. Here are a few talking points:

I am calling to oppose Sen. Cardin’s planned amendment in the Senate Finance Committee tomorrow to make opposition to boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel a principal trade negotiating objective of the United States

BDS measures are legitimate, nonviolent tactics to oppose Israel’s ongoing oppression of Palestinians and similar measures have been used in the past and present to advance social justice both at home and abroad

The United States has no right to pressure other countries not to limit their commercial relations with Israel or Israeli businesses, especially those located in Israel’s illegal settlements

Principal trade negotiating objectives of the United States should be what is  in the best interest of workers in the United States and abroad, and the environment and sustainability, not what is in the best interests of Israel’s apartheid control over the Palestinians

If you have five-15 minutes, please call Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, at (202) 224-5244, along with committee members Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) at(202) 224-2315, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) at (202) 224-3441, and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) at (202) 224-2023, and ask them to oppose this amendment.  

Also, click here to see a full list of committee member phone numbers and call your Senator if s/he is on the committee as well. Be sure to mention that you are a constituent.

If you have a few hours and you’re near Washington, DC, join us tomorrow, Wednesday, April 22 for the Finance Committee hearing. Meet us at 10:30 AM outside of G-50 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

If you can, wear a BDS t-shirt and/or pin, bring a kuffiyeh, or other some piece of clothing that shows your solidarity with Palestine and opposition to Congressional attempts to legislate against BDS. 

In January, Sen. Cardin praised the Montgomery Bus Boycott as an example of the power of boycotts as a time-tested tactic employed by civil society to pursue justice. “The ideals behind the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott…have not faded in time,” he wrote. The hypocrisy is glaring. What Cardin supported as a tactic for African-Americans gaining civil rights, he opposes for Palestinians seeking to attain their rights.

Let’s not let him get away with such brazen double standards.

Thanks for taking action and let us know how your calls went.


Mike Coogan                                        
Legislative Coordinator

P.S. There are lots of good reasons to oppose the T-TIP being negotiated in secret between the US and EU.

As our friends at the UK-based organization War on Want note, the accord is designed to remove regulatory “barriers” to trade that “are in reality some of our most prized social standards and environmental regulations, such as labour rights, food safety rules (including restrictions on GMOs), regulations on the use of toxic chemicals, digital privacy laws and even new banking safeguards introduced to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.” Read its important report here.