Why I took the day off to go on Norpac’s mission to Washington

Why I took the day off to go on Norpac’s mission to Washington

Yes. I took April 25 off from work to go on the mission. I had intended to go with my son, but it didn’t work out because of school exams.

I took the day off to show my kids how important it was, and to do my small part. I took the day off to lobby on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people, for continued U.S. support for Israel, and for the support of our leaders in the fight against the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction movement to help our kids on campus.

Make no mistake about it. BDS is the next step in the attempt to destroy Israel. First the surrounding Arab nations went to war. Then there was terrorism and the intifada. Now we have BDS. BDS is no different than the Nazi boycott of Jewish goods in the 1930s and the illegal Arab boycotts in the 1950s and 60s.

To quote well known BDS proponent Cornel West, “All of us should seek respectfully to engage with people who challenge our views. And we should oppose efforts to silence those with whom we disagree — especially on college and university campuses.”

Mr. West has been called a “major hypocrite” for “believing in free speech for me and not for thee” by Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz.

Groups like Students for Justice in Palestine use radical anti-Israel tactics to shut down pro-Israel speakers on campus, which is the ultimate denial of free speech. The BDS movement is inherently predicated on the suppression of speech and the free exchange of ideas. Supporting boycotts of Israeli academics, diplomats, and performers simply is not consistent with free speech values.

I went on the Norpac mission to lobby for support for the United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 5141 and S. 2497). I went to lobby for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Economic Exclusion Act (H.R. 5132). I went to seek support for the Combating BDS Act of 2017 (House: H.R. 2856; Senate: S. 170) and the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (House: H.R.1697, Senate: S.720).

The United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018 (a) authorizes $3.3 billion in military assistance and $500 million in anti-missile funding for Fiscal Year 2019, as provided for in the 2016 MOU (Memorandum of Understanding), a 10-year agreement between the U.S. and Israel that ensures Israel’s qualitative military edge and (b) contains other provisions to ensure that Israel has the means necessary to defend itself, by itself, against a range of growing and emerging threats.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Economic Exclusion Act tightens sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s primary tool for terrorism and regional aggression. The president has considerable authority under earlier legislation to impose sanctions on Iran for its terrorist activities. However, the administration (and prior administrations) have not used much of that authority; a letter signed by 64 senators urges the president to do so.

The Combating BDS Act of 2017 makes it clear that state and local governments have a right to disassociate their pensions and contracts from entities that boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel. In so doing, it also protects these governments from lawsuits. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act would combat the efforts by the U.N. Human Rights Council to encourage a boycott of companies doing business in Israel over the 1949 Armistice line by expanding U.S. law to prohibit compliance with such boycotts. The bipartisan bill’s authors support an updated version of their bill, which includes language clarifying the rights of individual U.S. citizens to engage in personal boycott activity, and it affirms that nothing in the act should be construed to diminish or infringe on any right protected under the First Amendment.

I went so that when someone asks me what I am doing to help the Jewish people, our kids on campus, and the Jewish State I can tell them that I am doing my small part by taking the day off from work and going to Washington with Norpac.

Next year I plan to go again with my son — and I hope that you will too.

Howard S. Shafer of Englewood is an attorney and a candidate for the Englewood Democratic Municipal Committee in Ward 1, District 1.

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