BDS Caught Up in Intersectionality

The anti-Israel trend you've never heard of: If you want to effectively fight the boycott, sanctions and divestment movement against Israel, especially on college campuses, read David Bernstein's article on intersectionality.

Iran's ballistic missile tests remain troubling. We don't know what's happening behind the scenes. The goal is deterrence of further testing; whether we use sanctions or the threat of sanctions is immaterial (Iran has not tested since the administration said it was considering sanctions). 

Seven Democrats asked President Barack Obama to immediately impose sanctions, and it's hard to disagree with anything they wrote. But with implementation of the Iran deal only days away, we should not to do today what we can do in the near future with less risk.

There is no evidence of nuclear-related cooperation between Iran and North Korea. North Korea's nuclear weapons program is an argument for, not against, the Iran deal.

Have liberal Jews betrayed Israel? Chemi Shalev argues that progressive Jews are failing Israel by remaining silent while Israeli democracy withers. Jane Eisner disagrees, leading Shalev to wonder whether his "relationship with American Jews was built on a lie." Click on all three links to read all three articles. Regardless of where you stand, you need to understand both points of view. If you have trouble with the links, let me know. 

Issues that were once theoretical, such as whether there is a difference between being "pro-Israel" and "supporting a strong U.S.-Israel relationship," the difference between supporting Israel and supporting Israel's government, and the extent to which American Jews should criticize Israeli policies (and which policies and how to criticize), will become increasingly important the longer Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains in power.

President Obama is taking action on gun safety. Read his speech. Members of Congress who claim to support gun safety measures, such as Rep. Robert Dold (R-Kenilworth), nevertheless continue to block congressional consideration of gun safety legislation (in Dold's case, at least seven more times since this was written in December).

President Obama is fully within his rights to take the actions he's taking, but Congress must do more. Watch the full speech if you have time.

President Obama's last State of the Union address is Tuesday, January 12. It will be different. Watch the 90-second preview.

In defense of Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR): If you're looking for someone to defend Tom Cotton's policies, you're reading the wrong newsletter. He's one of the worst. He was wrong about North Korea and Iran too.

But as hard as it is to make Cotton seem worse than he really is or to treat him unfairly, this article from Addicting Info, which alleges that Israel funneled money to Cotton through the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI), manages to do it.

The ECI (also known as the Emergency Committee to Deceptively Scare Jews into Voting Republican) is a very right-wing pro-Israel group. But it is neither funded by the State of Israel nor an intermediary of Israel. It is an American group that lawfully spends money on candidates it supports. ECI exemplifies the need for campaign finance reform, but its activities are legal today. Did the ECI "buy" Tom Cotton's vote? I doubt it. My guess is that it supported him because of his views, not because it hoped to change his views by giving him money.

Regardless, this is not a case of a foreign government giving money through intermediaries. Israel does not fund the ECI or any of the many American pro-Israel groups that make political contributions. Israel did not hire Cotton to do anything. Cotton did not "pledge allegiance to Israel" by saying he'd work with Congress to support Israel, which is what nearly all members of Congress say.

As for the National Security Agency intercepts, we don't know the context of the conversations or who participated in the conversations. Asking "how can we get your vote" can be as benign as "what information do you need from us to oppose the deal." It's not necessarily a request for money.

I had a one-on-one 20-minute phone conversation with a U.S. senator in August. We talked about what he needed to support the Iran deal; he wanted certain policy assurances from the administration. It's likely that was the kind of conversation representatives of Israel were having with U.S. lawmakers. There is nothing wrong with that. I disagree with nearly everything Cotton did regarding the Iran deal (I say "nearly" only in case there's something he did that I'm not aware of), but there is no evidence that Israel gave him any money or that he or the pro-Israel groups in the U.S. who gave him money acted improperly.

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