In the following letter, Hillel International President and CEO Eric D. Fingerhut thanks Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) for their bipartisan amendment to the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation aimed at combatting the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which passed the Senate Finance Committee last month.
The amendment leverages ongoing trade negotiations to discourage prospective U.S. trade partners from engaging in economic discrimination against Israel.
“This amendment sends a clear message that if you want to be an economic partner with the United States, you cannot support politically motivated boycotts of Israel,” said Portman. “I’m pleased that it was successfully included in this legislation because it says the United States will not stand with those who attempt to weaken Israel.”
Dear Senators Cardin and Portman:
Thank you for your leadership in introducing a bipartisan amendment to the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation in order to combat the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
The legislation you are championing sends a strong message at home and to our European partners. You have demonstrated that we will not allow politically motivated boycotts to interfere with the strength of U.S.-Israel commerce and that we encourage our trade partners not to engage in economic discrimination against the Jewish state.
As the leader of the largest Jewish campus organization in the United States and across the world, I join you in fighting the growing anti-Israel scourge. The BDS movement is poisoning our nation's institutions of higher learning and reintroducing anti-Semitism to campuses that long ago banished anti-Jewish discrimination from their gates.
This newest iteration of anti-Semitism is disguised as political speech criticizing Israeli policy. It is easy to see through this veneer to realize that the BDS movement on campus is rife with efforts to intimidate Jewish students and silence their views. This year Jewish students' loyalty and ability to serve in student government have been called into question, Hillels and other Jewish spaces on campus have been defiled with swastikas and other intolerable graffiti, and student governments have been taken hostage by anti-Israel divestment campaigns seeking to align with a global movement dedicated to Israel's destruction. These divestment efforts harm campus life violate academic integrity and create a hostile environment for Jewish students.
Hillel is at the forefront of combatting this hate on 550 campuses in the United States and in 13 countries around the world. We are beating back divestment efforts with grassroots student support for peace, civility and justice. Students have a positive role to play, and Hillel supports their efforts to be part of the solution in the Middle East.
Thank you for reiterating that the United States will not stand with those who attempt to weaken Israel.