Published: Wed, January 09, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Manchin: US Has No Better Ally Than Israel

Manchin: US Has No Better Ally Than Israel

Last week, Sens. Marco Rubio, James Risch, Cory Gardner, and Mitch McConnell introduced their first piece of legislation for the year-Strengthening America's Security in the Middle East Act of 2019-an omnibus bill that would guarantee billions of dollars in us military assistance to Israel over the next decade, shore up security cooperation with Jordan, sanction Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad's regime, and provide legal cover for states that pass anti-boycott laws. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., dismissed Democrats Tuesday, blaming them for refusing to budge on the wall. "I'm going to defend Israel in every way and every time I can". The bill was supported only by 56 out of 100 senators, while 60 votes were needed for further consideration of the bill.

Coming amid the partial government shutdown, Democrats said they will block the bill until government is reopened.

"The Senate must reopen the government as the first order of business before proceeding with other bills", Sen. (Whether that's actually going to happen remains an open question this week.) Seemingly in response to jittery allies in Israel, GOP leaders in the Senate put together a "mega package" of legislation created to address those concerns and help out our Israeli allies. Some Democrats have endorsed bills disallowing boycotts, but critics say such measures violate the First Amendment right to free speech. Maybe a refresher on our U.S. Constitution is in order, then get back to opening up our government instead of taking our rights away.

Last year, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) lambasted the BDS movement, describing it as a "profoundly biased campaign to delegitimize the State of Israel". A Woodstock-style concert was canceled and some companies including Airbnb stopped offering services in the West Bank settlements.

The legislative package Democrats blocked Tuesday includes security assistance to Israel and Jordan, sanctions on the Syria regime, and a measure that aims to block boycotts of Israel.

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Some Republicans accused Democrats of supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians, which they see as anti-Semitic. Highly controversial among liberals and progressives, the BDS movement aims at ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and ensuring full equality for Palestinian citizens.

Tlaib later hit back at Rubio, saying: 'Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., tweeted, "It's absurd that the first bill during the shutdown is legislation which punishes Americans who exercise their constitutional right to engage in political activity".

The bill appears unlikely to move forward after Democrats took a stand against passing any legislation before the government is reopened. "Let's get our priorities right", the senator continued. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World. According to Rubio, Democrat leaders are trying to avoid a vote on his bill because it would expose how many Democrat BDS supporters are now in the Senate. "Really risky to play politics with support for Israel".

The ACLU disagreed, calling on Rubio to "reconsider" the bill, which it said "makes a mockery of the First Amendment". "It ensures Israel has the means necessary to defend itself-by itself-against growing threats and helps protect the right of states to counter boycotts against Israel".

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