Jewish groups urge Congress to act on Israel, anti-Semitism bills

Jewish groups urge Congressional action on bills related to Israel and anti-Semitism before end of session: The ADL and coalition partners sent a letter to Congressional leaders earlier this week urging the quick passage of two bipartisan bills aimed at targeting anti-Semitism abroad. “We believe action on these bills before Congress ends its session would send an important message that America will not remain silent as international Jewish communities are threatened,” wrote the 72 signatories.

The Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act would see a new envoy appointed to the position, left empty since January 2017, while the Combating European Anti-Semitism Act “declares that it is in the U.S. interest to combat anti-Semitism at home and abroad.” The letter was sent to Senate leaders Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

At the same time, lawmakers are hoping to push through votes on several Israel-related bills in the current Congress. Four bills await action: legislation pressuring Hamas to halt the use of human shields against Israel; an act formalizing the 10-year Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and Israel, which Senator Rand Paul is currently blocking; an anti-BDS bill; and the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which has yet to gain the backing of likely 2020 contenders in the Senate — save for Cory Booker, who recently announced in Jewish Insider that he will back it.

Halie Soifer, Executive Director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA), tells us… “In blocking legislation that would formalize the historic MOU agreement Senator Paul is standing in the way of something that is in not only Israel’s security interests but also that of the United States because we have shared security interests, and our relationship and the Memorandum of Understanding is mutually beneficial. This is a long-standing effort by Senator Paul to oppose foreign aid against many countries. But this instance is particularly egregious because what he’s doing is not just blocking the vote. He’s blocking something that would otherwise pass by unanimous consent. This is a very strong obstructionist move that could potentially be very damaging to our national security interests.”

Soifer on concerns about Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “The three Democrats, we haven’t actually seen what that will look like in terms of whether it will translate into any sort of legislative reality or have any real implications. We don’t know. And you know, these three women have views on Israel that the Jewish Democratic Council of America has publicly come out against. But we are hopeful that once they arrive in Washington in January and become fully versed in not only U.S. foreign policy but U.S. national security interests, and the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship, especially the military relationship with Israel, that their views may change and they may not translate into any sort of specific legislative action.”

RJC’s Norm Coleman emails: “One Republican Senator who opposes foreign aid is impacting aid for Israel. The Democrat Party leadership, however, supported giving over $150 billion to Iran to support its terrorism in the Mideast. The Democrat Party leadership supported an Iranian nuclear deal that represented an existential threat to Israel.”

“In January, a Pew poll found the widest partisan gap ever between how Republicans and Democrats view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Self-described liberal Democrats’ sympathies for Israel have plummeted from 48 percent at the beginning of the century to just 19 percent today. (Coleman quoted a Roll Call report). The lack of support for Israel is not limited to a few Democrat backbenchers. By every measure, the Democrat base is markedly less supportive of Israel today. I lament that reality. Unfortunately, support for Israel is not an applause line at a Democrat party function today.”

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