How Republicans Are Working Against Dem Attempts To Boycott Israel

House legislation would prevent Biden admin from labeling Israeli goods made in contested areas

Credit: Flickr user Takver
August 8, 2023

Republicans in Congress are working to clamp down on efforts by the Biden administration to allow boycotts on Israel, just weeks after Senate Democrats paved the way for the United States to discriminate against Jewish-made Israeli products.

Rep. Claudia Tenney (R., N.Y.) is spearheading legislation that would prevent the Biden administration from rescinding an executive order ensuring that products made in contested areas of the Jewish state, such as the West Bank and Gaza Strip, are labeled as "made in Israel."

Supporters of the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement in Congress and the Biden administration have long worked to strip the "made in Israel" label from products manufactured in so-called settlements, which they argue are not technically part of Israel. Tenney’s measure, the Anti-BDS Labeling Act, would effectively bar the U.S. government from segregating products made in these territories.

The legislation, which is certain to garner widespread support in the Republican-controlled House, comes less than two weeks after Senate Democrats shot down a measure that would have blocked the Federal Trade Commission from penalizing products produced by Jews living in contested territories. The Biden administration also came under intense criticism last month after it cut all U.S. funding to Israeli research organizations operating in Jewish areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a decision praised by BDS advocates. Congressional Republicans view both efforts as an attempt by Israel’s detractors to isolate the Jewish state.

Tenney’s bill, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday, addresses an issue that has long been a flashpoint in U.S.-Israel relations. The Obama administration, for instance, directed the government in 2016 to stop labeling goods produced in the West Bank as "made in Israel," a decision meant to erode Israel’s claims on the territory. The Biden administration offered a similar rationale last month when it cut off funds for Israeli scientific organizations operating in contested areas of the country, claiming the policy is "simply reflective of the longstanding U.S. position" on disputed areas of Israel.

The labeling issue reemerged earlier this month during debate over a Senate bill authorizing the Federal Trade Commission to penalize foreign companies that mislabel their goods’ country of origin. Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) pushed an amendment to stop the FTC from using its power to target Israeli goods, but Democrats on the chamber’s commerce committee rejected it.

Tenney’s latest measure addresses the issue head on by prohibiting the Biden administration from using any federal funds to reverse a Trump-era order requiring "products made in Israeli-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria be marked as originating from 'Israel.'" This would reinforce Israeli control over the areas and prevent the Biden administration from taking further action to undermine the Jewish state’s sovereignty.

"The Anti-BDS Labeling Act ensures an accurate representation of products that originate from Israel, Gaza, or Judea and Samaria," Tenney told the Free Beacon. "This not only reinforces existing U.S. policy, but also prevents the BDS movement from arbitrarily discriminating against goods made in Israeli-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria."

Tenney added that House Republicans remain "committed to standing against any efforts to delegitimize Israel, and any efforts to reverse or alter this labeling rule."