If passed, new legislation would reverse the long standing official US policy of opposing the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories by de facto recognition of all settlements as part of a “Greater Israel”. Greater Israel is a term used, historically, to define the so-called ‘natural’ or desired borders of Israel in the eyes of radical Israeli nationalists.

Founding father of the modern Israeli colonial movement, Theodore Herzl, described the area of the proposed Jewish state as stretching “from the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates.” According to Rabbi Fischmann, the so-called Promised Land extends ‘from the River of Egypt up to the Euphrates’ and ‘includes parts of Syria and Lebanon.”

From this context, the current crisis in the Middle East, including the war on Syria and Iraq (as well as any proposed ‘humanitarian intervention’ by Western powers) has often been perceived by geopolitical analysts to be merely a part of a process for Israeli territorial expansion, via proxy war and any number of destabilization methods affecting vital Arab interests.

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) states that the proposed legislation would also mandate US government actions to track and penalize commercial boycotts, a violation of constitutionally protected political speech.

The organization strongly opposes proposed amendments to trade legislation intended to institutionalize support for the Israeli occupation and the attempt to criminalize non-violent boycotts of Israel.

The Senate Finance Committee recently approved amended language to S.995, while a related bill (HR. 825) is pending in the House. This added language regarding boycotts of Israel, backed by AIPAC, comes in response to growing grassroots support in the United States and across the globe for using boycotts, divestment and sanctions tactics as tools to further justice, equality, and human rights for Palestinians.

From South Africa to the grape boycott to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) tactics have been essential tools used to create a more just society, JVP goes on to say. Rabbi Joseph Berman, the Federal Policy Organizer of the group notes: “This legislation, which actually encourages illegal settlement building while strengthening the far right in Israel, shows that BDS is an increasingly powerful means to challenge Israel’s impunity when it comes to Palestinian rights. We urge Congress to reject this legislation.’

See also: 04/14/15 The International Community Has Failed Yarmouk