This afternoon, the U.S. Senate passed the Strengthening America's Security in the Middle East Act of 2019 (S.1). This critical includes several measures - among them, the much-needed Combating BDS Act of 2019, which protects state and local governments that wish to "adopt measures to divest its assets from entities using boycotts, divestments, or sanctions to influence Israel's policies." Though we are pleased with the overwhelming support shown in the vote to advance this important legislation, it is deeply concerning that 22 Democratic Senators - almost half of the Senate Democratic Caucus - voted against.
The list of Senators that voted against includes elected officials that have professed support for the Jewish state, but the concerns that they have raised about the provisions dealing with the efforts to counter the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel do not reflect that support. It is also deeply disturbing to see that officials such as Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Cory Booker, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, who have announced their ambitions for the U.S. Presidency, voted against these efforts to fight a movement that threatens the very existence of the State of Israel.
The passage of this legislation is an important victory against the BDS movement, which seeks to inflict economic harm on the State of Israel and its people. BDS not only hurts Israelis of all religions, ethnicities, and political beliefs, but also hurts countless Palestinians employed by Israeli businesses.
The American Jewish applauds all the Senators from both sides of the aisle who came together to make this possible. This vote should remind us all that no matter how divided our politics can feel, the protection of the United States and its allies is a bipartisan mission and should stay as such.
American Jewish Congress