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Gillibrand and Booker Know Something We Don’t


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Gillibrand and Booker Know Something We Don’t

The previously reliably pro-Israel senators have officially changed course, and it’s worth asking why

By Liel Leibovitz

On Monday, Senator Kristin Gillibrand attended a town hall meeting in Queens, and announced that she was withdrawing her support from an anti-BDS bill. The move came after the senator met with the ACLU, which argues that the bill will stifle the First Amendment. It won’t: as its co-sponsors, Senators Cardin and Portman, explained in a letter to the civil liberties organization last month, the new legislative initiative merely amends a 1977 act that prohibits Americans from complying with unauthorized foreign boycotts—think the Arab League’s long-standing anti-Israel drive—and expands it to include boycotts sanctioned not only by foreign governments but by international governmental organizations as well. In other words, the bill is an important but relatively minor addition to a law that has been on the books for four decades and was consistently upheld by the courts. Why, then, did Gillibrand change her mind?

 I’ve placed a call to her press representatives, who directed me to her town hall comments. There, the senator said that while she did not agree with the ACLU interpretation,

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