U.S. Sen. Cory Booker defended his support of legislation that, if enacted, would allow state and local governments the right to punish state or local contractors from engaging in boycotting Israel.
After opposing the version that passed as part of a bigger bill in the Senate in February, Booker, a candidate for the presidential election in 2020, came out in support of the current version of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act.
“I voted against the anti-BDS bill that I thought was an assault on First Amendment rights,” he told HuffPost in an interview published on Wednesday. “I support the [current] bill because, again, as a guy who knows a little bit about constitutional law and I know there are people who disagree with me — that is not, it actually protects American companies from being forced by foreign international organizations from complying with things that they shouldn’t have to comply with.”
“I do not support BDS,” continued Booker. “To me, I think, there are elements in the BDS movement that want to destroy the State of Israel, that are engaged in things that will undermine Israel’s ability to survive, to exist, to protect itself.”
He added, “Israel is a democratic ally of ours in a region that is surrounded by nations, many of them who are doing things to suppress minorities, violate rights in a way that should be calling on all of us to say, ‘Look what you are doing to your minorities, to gays and lesbians, look what you are doing to women.’ But yet people seem to be focused on a state that is a democratic state, that has Muslims on its Supreme Court, Muslims in its legislature.”
Regarding Mideast peace, Booker said, “I support the right of Israel to exist and to defend itself. But I also support the rights of Palestinians—the human rights of the Palestinians … this administration is pulling back the resources necessary, pulling back a commitment to a two-state solution—because just as much as the Israelis have a right to self-determination, so do Palestinians.”
Nonetheless, said Booker, “this BDS movement is something that I do not support, and I think that we should do what we can to protect American companies, and other Americans, from being attacked in a way that undermines their ability to stand up for what they believe is right. That is where I stand.”