A proposed US-Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act presented to Congress on 10 February by Representatives Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Juan Vargas (D-CA) is designed to “counter the BDS movement against Israel and strengthen the US-Israel economic relationship.” Reporting for the Electronic Intifada, Ryvka Barnard and John Hilary analyze how the proposed US-Israel trade bill might combine with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which is currently under negotiation by the European Union (EU) and the US, to “compel all 28 EU member states to crack down on European groups participating in the growing movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel in solidarity with the Palestinian people.”
According to the congressmen, the US bill would “ensure that American free trade partners never engage in this harmful and illegitimate political protest against Israel, while also protecting US companies from foreign lawsuits targeting their associations with Israel.” The bill is specifically linked to any and all persons, or groups of persons, that prohibit or opt out of business deals with Israel or Israeli controlled territories. This would ultimately grant immunity to and allow continuance of Israel’s operations in Palestinian territories such as their violent occupation of the West Bank. “In order to combat the increasing isolation of Israel in global public opinion,” Barnard and Hilary write, “European governments would effectively be turned into police agents for the US state.”
The TTIP is controversial in Europe, with many opposed to its ratification on grounds that it will significantly enhance corporate power. However, US-Israeli lobbyists and political figures are actively pushing for its enactment. Critics fear that the TTIP will subvert governmental protections, including labor rights and environmental regulations, and undermine democracy by legitimizing the extension of US surveillance programs to include Europe nations. As Barnard and Hilary conclude, “The introduction of this new anti-BDS bill in the context of the TTIP negotiations is a clear statement that anyone entering into trade agreements with the US must expect to forfeit their right to express solidarity with the Palestinian people.”
Source: Ryvka Barnard and John Hilary, “How EU-US Trade Deal Could Thwart ‘Boycott Israel’ Campaign,” Electronic Intifada, February 19, 2015, http://electronicintifada.net/content/how-eu-us-trade-deal-could-thwart-boycott-israel-campaign/14290.
Student Researcher: Christina Duncan Collins (College of Marin)
Faculty Advisor: Susan Rahman (College of Marin)