Booker defends support for anti-BDS bill

2020 Democrats

Cory Booker

Mark C. Olsen

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker addresses family, friends, elected officials, and New Jersey National Guard leadership during the farewell ceremony for more than 180 New Jersey Army National Guard Soldiers from Alpha and Charlie Companies, 2nd Battalion, 113th Infantry Regiment, at the Prudential Center, Newark, N.J., Feb. 4, 2019.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Senator Cory Booker defended his support of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which he co-sponsored last year. The interview took place in the Booker campaign’s RV, while driving through Southeastern Iowa, and was published on Wednesday.

According to Booker, the current version of the Senate bill actually “protects American companies” from being forced to comply with actions that undermine the state of Israel. “I am sorry, the BDS movement is something that I do not support, and I think that we should do what we can to protect American companies, and other Americans, from being attacked in a way that undermines their ability to stand up for what they believe is right,” Booker said.

Huffington Post reporter: Of the senators running for the Democratic nomination in 2020, you are the only one that has co-sponsored the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which deals with the BDS movement. The ACLU says that this law is unconstitutional, that it will restrict Americans’ free speech. Why do you think they are wrong? Do you think that these boycotts that people are proposing, particularly of products made in the settlements — are those antisemitic? Why do you support this bill when, you know, you are standing out?

Booker: “I voted against the anti-BDS bill that I thought was an assault on first amendment rights. I support the [current] bill because, again, as a guy who knows a little bit about constitutional law and I know there are people who disagree with me — that is not, it actually protects American companies from being forced by foreign international organizations from complying with things that they shouldn’t have to comply with.”

“I do not support BDS. To me, I think, there are elements in the BDS movement that want to destroy the state of Israel, that are engaged in things that will undermine Israel’s ability to survive, to exist, to protect itself. Israel is a democratic ally of ours in a region that is surrounded by nations, many of them who are doing things to suppress minorities, violate rights in a way that should be calling on all of us to say, ‘Look what you are doing to your minorities, to gays and lesbians, look what you are doing to women.’ But yet people seem to be focused on a state that is a democratic state, that has Muslims on its Supreme Court, Muslims in its legislature. And I support the right of Israel to exist and to defend itself. But I also support the rights of Palestinians — the human rights of the Palestinians… this administration is pulling back the resources necessary, pulling back a commitment to a two-state solution — because just as much as the Israelis have a right to self-determination, so do Palestinians. But I am sorry, this BDS movement is something that I do not support, and I think that we should do what we can to protect American companies, and other Americans, from being attacked in a way that undermines their ability to stand up for what they believe is right. That is where I stand.”

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