In an act unprecedented in recent history, US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand took a stand this week in support of the right of Americans to boycott Israel by formally withdrawing her sponsorship of S.720, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act.
The New York Democrat’s withdrawal of her sponsorship comes after constituents repeatedly pressed her on her support of the bill at town hall meetings in New York City.
On 22 July in the Bronx, Gillibrand affirmed that “we are all allowed to boycott” in response to a constituent who laid out his concerns that the bill would criminalize those supporting boycotts of Israel.
At another town hall in Queens on 31 July, Gillibrand stated in response to similar concerns that she would not support the bill in its current form. She made good on her promise by notifying the Senate on 1 August that she wished to withdraw her sponsorship of the bill.
It is exceedingly rare for members of Congress to withdraw their sponsorship from bills. One veteran congressional staffer could recall only one instance of it happening in recent memory when a representative took his name off a bill regulating minor league baseball.
Gillibrand’s bold decision to withdraw her sponsorship of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act could signal its death knell, at least in its current form. However, with 46 senators and 249 representatives still supporting this unconstitutional bill, its passage remains a threat.
THE ELECTRONIC INTIFADA - 3 August 2017
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