As Violence Spikes in Middle East, Ted Cruz Targets Israel Boycotters

As violence soars in Israel and the Palestinian territory, Sen. Ted Cruz is taking aim at countries that boycott Israel.
As violence soars in Israel and the Palestinian territory, Sen. Ted Cruz is taking aim at countries that boycott Israel. Israel Police, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Amid soaring bloodshed between Israel and the Palestinians, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is going after pro-Palestinian countries. This week, the Texas Republican sought to hit back at countries that don't keep cozy ties with Israel.

Known as the Endless Frontier Act, the bill was originally written to counter Chinese influence by investing in technological development, but Cruz tacked on the amendment to “de-prioritize” countries that “boycott, divest from or sanction” Israel, according to a report by Jewish Insider.

The move comes as Cruz attempts to pin the blame for the latest round of bloodshed on President Joe Biden. The senator said the violence was a "direct result" of Biden's policies.

"Today’s Democrat party is dominated by the anti-Israel angry Left," Cruz wrote on Twitter Wednesday. "And Dems are terrified to say anything to the contrary. Even while terrorists attack & murder innocent Israelis."

Cruz also called on the Biden administration to send more missiles to Israel.

He didn't mention how many Palestinians had died, even though the United Nations spokesperson Stéphane Dujarrichas said he's "deeply saddened by reported deaths of [Palestinian] children in Gaza."

The language of Cruz's amendment mirrors that of legislation introduced in recent years to combat the growth of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

"Instead of joining people of conscience around the world protesting Israel's killing of Palestinians and ethnic cleansing, Cruz is pushing to punish nonviolent efforts to hold Israel accountable for its egregious violations of international law," said Meera Shah, a staff attorney at Palestine Legal, a U.S.-based advocacy group.

"Lawmakers must reject this abhorrent attempt to deflect attention away from Israel's crimes," Shah added.

Launched in 2005, the BDS movement is led by Palestinians and has spread across much of the world. The movement is made up of churches, unions, academic associations and grassroots activism groups.

The movement calls for boycotts, divestments and sanctions until Israel ends its decades-long military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the Syrian Golan Heights, allows Palestinian refugees to return to the communities they were driven from, and grants full rights to more than 1.5 million Palestinians who carry Israeli citizenship.

The amendment is one of dozens of measures in recent years to crack down on the BDS movement. Across the U.S., at least 30 states have enacted similar legislation, and some 219 anti-BDS bills have been introduced, according to Palestine Legal.

In 2019, the Texas Legislature passed HB 793, which forbids state contracts and state investment in “entities” that boycott Israel or the territories Israel occupies. A federal court had struck down a previous iteration of the bill, which it said was likely to violate free speech rights.

The latest violence in Israel and the Palestinian territory was sparked when Israeli settlers attempted to evict Palestinians from homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem.

For the last week, Palestinians have protested and battled with heavily armed Israeli security forces throughout the West Bank and Palestinian communities within Israel. Meanwhile, Israel has ramped up a bombing campaign targeting the besieged Gaza Strip, while armed groups in Gaza have fired rockets into Israel.

Israeli air strikes have killed more than 100 Palestinians since Monday, including at least 27 children, according to Palestinian officials. Israeli authorities say rockets fired from Gaza have killed at least seven people in Israel, including a child. On Thursday, Israeli forces announced they'd invaded the coastal enclave. 
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Patrick Strickland is the news editor at the Dallas Observer. He's a former senior reporter at Al Jazeera English and has reported for the New York Review of Books, The Guardian, Politico EU and The New Republic, among others.