- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that House Democrats can prove they respect the U.S. alliance with Israel by passing a bill pushing back against the BDS movement.

Mr. McConnell, speaking to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s conference in Washington, said the Senate passed the bill with bipartisan support earlier this year, and he said the House could quickly send it to President Trump.

The bill would renew military and financial assistance to Israel and would give a legal OK to states and localities that want to stop doing business with corporations or individuals who join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement designed to punish Israel.

“We cannot pull back and abandon this region to chaos,” the top-ranking Senate Republican told AIPAC.

The bill passed the Senate 77-23 last month, but Democratic leaders have not made any move to take it up in the House.

Instead, they’ve suggested they would pursue other legislation that would renew the military and financial ties — but wouldn’t attempt to create the legal protections for states and localities attempting to fight back against BDS.

Mr. McConnell said it appeared Democratic leaders were “paralyzed” by an anti-Israel outcry from their party’s left wing.

“Talk is cheap. Give it a vote in the House,” he said.

He said comments suggesting Jewish groups use their money to control U.S. politicians show anti-Semitism is spreading among Democrats. Prominent freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar, Minnesota Democrat, made such a charge earlier this year.

Mr. McConnell also criticized Democrats’ 2020 presidential candidates who decided to skip out on AIPAC this year, after a progressive activist group called for a boycott of the pro-Israel conference.

“I am worried that, if we do not unite to take action against this growing tide of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment, we will live to regret what our politics become,” he said.

Democratic leaders that did address AIPAC denounced the BDS movement as a radical group focused on undermining Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

They touted support for a resolution authored by Reps. Brad Schneider and Jerrold Nadler that condemns BDS and calls for a “two-state solution” to the ongoing battle between Israel and the Palestinians.

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