Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush has promised that if he is elected president next November he will deploy the full might of the US Department of Justice to crack down on the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel.
“On day one I will work with the next attorney general to stop the BDS movement in the United States, to use whatever resources that exist,” the former Florida governor told the Republican Jewish Coalition in a speech on Thursday.
“A Bush administration will forcefully restore America’s leadership in the world in other ways as well,” Bush added.
He lumped together the recent Islamic State attacks in Paris, Tunisia and Beirut with the killing of a US teenager in a shooting attack in the occupied West Bank last month.
Ezra Schwartz, an 18-year-old student from Massachusetts, was killed in a drive-by shooting near the Gush Etzion bloc of settlements while he was en route to do “community service ” in an Israeli settlement.
Two others, 24-year-old Palestinian Shadi Arafa and 51-year-old Israeli settler Yaacov Don, were also killed in the shooting.
Bush said all the incidents were “Islamic terrorism that wants to destroy our way of life.”
“They have declared war on us and we need to declare war on them,” he added, sweeping Palestinians in with Islamic State.
More than 100 Palestinians have been killed since 1 October, many of them in what human rights organizations and international monitors have condemned as summary executions by Israel.
Nineteen Israelis, one Palestinian and one American were slain by Palestinians during the same period, according to The New York Times.
Jeb Bush, the brother of former president George W. Bush and son of former president George H. W. Bush, also made what are now standard promises for US presidential candidates to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and to increase the already massive US military aid package to Israel.
Those statements do not distinguish him from other Republicans, let alone from President Barack Obama who has declared his determination to conclude a new deal with Israel that could see US military aid rise by more than 50 percent to nearly $5 billion a year.
Trampling free speech
In July, Democratic Party frontrunner Hillary Clinton promised billionaire donor and anti-Palestinian activist Haim Saban that she would commit to fighting BDS.
“I know you agree that we need to make countering BDS a priority,” she wrote in a letter to Saban.
Clinton said she wanted Saban’s advice on how they could “reverse this trend with information and advocacy,” but stopped short of explicitly promising government repression.
And federal and state lawmakers have attempted with modest success to advance legislation over the past year to condemn BDS or penalize companies that divest from Israel.
But Bush’s promise to deploy the Department of Justice against the BDS movement shows a new, France-like level of willingness by US politicians to trample basic freedoms for the sake of Israel.
The US Supreme Court found in a landmark 1982 ruling on a case dating from the Civil Rights era that the right to use economic boycotts to pursue political ends is free speech protected by the First Amendment of the US constitution.