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Senator Stabenow justifies her ongoing support for the Israeli occupation and for the criminalization of BDS

April 12, 2019

Last month, I posted a response I received from Michigan Senator Gary Peters on his vote to continue to support the State of Israel and to vote for criminalizing support for the international Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions campaign, known as BDS. 

Yesterday, I received a similar message from Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow. She writes:

Thank you for contacting me about the Combating Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) Act, which was included in the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act (S.1). I appreciate you taking the time to make me aware of your views.

I supported S.1 because it includes legislation to maintain our security partnerships with Jordan and Israel and keeps critical sanctions on officials in Syria that are involved in the slaughter of innocent civilians. 

The Combating BDS Act authorizes states to enact laws related to anti-boycott activity. In Michigan, former Governor Snyder signed two anti-BDS bills into law last year, just before the end of his term.  I do not oppose an individual’s right to boycott, and I understand your concerns about these types of legislation.  

The Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act passed the Senate on February 5, 2019; it now awaits action by the House of Representatives.

An interesting choice os words from Senator Stabenow. She refers to the “security partnership” with Israel, but US military aid Israel ($3 Billion a year) has little to do with Israel’s security and more to do with supporting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. The global community through the United Nations has determined for years now that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land is illegal. In addition, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land results in the death of Palestinian civilians. According to the 2018 Human Rights Watch report

The Israeli government continued to enforce severe and discriminatory restrictions on Palestinians’ human rights; restrict the movement of people and goods into and out of the Gaza Strip; and facilitate the unlawful transfer of Israeli citizens to settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli forces stationed on the Israeli side of the fences separating Gaza and Israel responded to demonstrations for Palestinian rights on the Gaza side with excessive lethal force. Between March 30 and November 19, security forces killed 189 Palestinian demonstrators, including 31 children and 3 medical workers, and wounded more than 5,800 with live fire. 

The Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, provides regular human tights reports, with accompanying maps. Here is what they documented between March 23 and April 5 of 2019. 

From March 23 through April 5 Israeli security forces arrested at least 115 Palestinians, including 7 minors; made at least 178 raids on towns and villages; raided at least 124 homes; and set up at least 176 flying checkpoints.

▪ In the Hebron District, Israeli security forces arrested at least 6 Palestinians; made at least 6 raids on towns and villages and raided at least 8 homes; and set up at least 18 flying checkpoints.

▪ In the Bethlehem District, Israeli security forces arrested at least 10 Palestinians; made at least 5 raids on towns and villages and raided at least 11 homes; and set up at least 5 flying checkpoints.

▪ In the Ramallah District, Israeli security forces arrested at least 41 Palestinians, including 3 minors; made at least 32 raids on towns and villages and raided at least 45 homes; and set up at least 48 flying checkpoints.

▪ In the Nablus District, Israeli security forces arrested at least 15 Palestinians, including 1 minor; made at least 21 raids on towns and villages and raided at least 7 homes; and set up at least 20 flying checkpoints.

▪ In the Jordan Valley, Israeli security forces arrested at least 9 Palestinians; made at least 27 raids on towns and villages and raided at least 11 homes; and set up at least 17 flying checkpoints.

▪ In the northern West Bank, Israeli security forces arrested at least 34 Palestinians, including 3 minor; made at least 87 raids on towns and villages and raided at least 42 homes; and set up at least 68 flying checkpoints.

In addition to completely ignoring Israeli human rights abuses, Senator Stabenow also says, “I do not oppose an individual’s right to boycott.” If this were truly the case, then Senator Stabenow would not have voted for the Combating BDS Act, which criminalizes  the boycotting of Israeli companies or other multinational corporations that are profiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.

Senator Stabenow’s support for Israel and the criminalization of BDS is consistent with her longtime support of US military aid to Israel. Senator Stabenow has voted for US military aid to Israel for as long as she has been a US Senator, beginning in 1998. According to OpenSecrets.org, Senator Stabenow has received a total of $837,576 from  the Pro-Israel Lobby

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