On Tuesday night, I gave a talk on the University of Illinois-Urbana campus as part of “Israeli Apartheid Week.” In my talk, I argued that the question of whether Israel is an “apartheid state” or not is fundamentally a question of whether the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank is temporary or permanent. If the Israeli occupation of the West Bank is temporary, if we are on a path that leads to Israeli military withdrawal from the West Bank and the establishment of a Palestinian state, then Israel is not an apartheid state, in the same sense that going on a long bender does not necessarily make you an alcoholic. But if the Israeli occupation of the West Bank is permanent, if the status of Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank as stateless persons is permanent, if they have no “path to citizenship,” as it were, in the land of their birth, if Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s stated opposition to a two-state solution is the last word on the matter, then Israel is an apartheid state.
As Americans, what we’re primarily responsible for is the policy of the US government. The question for US policy is: Should it be the policy of the US government that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank should be temporary, or should it be the policy of the US government that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank should be permanent? If it is the policy of the US government that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank should be permanent, then it is the policy of the US government to support Israeli apartheid.
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This is context in which Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin’s efforts to make it part of US trade policy to protect Israeli settlements in the West Bank from European sanctions should be opposed by all genuine US supporters of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. I regret that I have to use the word “genuine” in this context, but the unfortunate fact is that many Americans who claim that they support a two-state solution to the conflict are in fact Two-State Fakers.
Cardin’s initiative is a textbook example of Two-State Faker behavior. Cardin claims to support a two-state solution, but then takes actions to try to make a two-state solution harder to achieve by trying to protect Israeli settlements in the West Bank from international sanctions.
Here’s what Cardin wants to be US law:
Cardin Amendment #7 to S. 995, a bill to establish congressional trade negotiating objectives and enhanced consultation requirements for trade negotiations, to provide for consideration of trade agreements, and for other purposes
Cosponsors: Portman, Cantwell, Schumer, Menendez, Warner
Short title: An amendment to enhance trade between the United States and Israel.
Description of amendment: This amendment includes a principal negotiating objective in the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 that incorporates the text of the U.S.-Israel Trade Enhancement Act of 2015 (S. 619), and limits that principal negotiating objective to apply only to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement.
S. 619 can be found here.
The “smoking gun” in S. 619 is this text [my emphasis]:
(2) To discourage politically motivated actions by foreign countries, non-member states of the United Nations, international organizations, and affiliated agencies of international organizations, that are intended to penalize or otherwise limit commercial relations specifically with—
(B) persons doing business in Israel or in territories controlled by Israel;
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement is a proposed agreement with Europe. Nobody in Europe with any power is proposing to do anything to European trade with Israel within Israel’s internationally-recognized borders. Cardin’s initiative is all about trying to block European sanctions on Israeli settlements in the West Bank (which sanctions are, by the way, supported by Human Rights Watch). Cardin is trying to block European efforts to bring about a two-state solution to the conflict. Thus, Ben Cardin is a Two-State Faker.
You can ask your representatives in Congress to oppose Ben Cardin’s efforts to kill the two-state solution here.