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Truthout - February 14, 2020

In recent days, much of the mainstream media has been focusing on the rise of centrist Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar as a serious contender in the Democratic presidential primary. Many in the more progressive wing of the party have been criticizing her positions on climate change and broader environmental concerns, as well as her stances on economic inequality, social welfare and the criminal legal system. However, attention also needs to be brought to her surprisingly right-wing foreign policy perspectives.

First and foremost are her rather frightening positions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, especially their implications for civil liberties. It’s unfortunately not unusual for Democrats — even those on the more liberal end of the spectrum — to take positions toward the Palestinians that would place these office-holders on what would be the right wing of the Israeli political spectrum. Klobuchar, however, goes on to embrace an unusually extreme perspective.

Klobuchar has long pushed for moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and has promised not to reverse Trump’s controversial decision to do so. Meanwhile, rejecting detailed reports from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other reputable international organizations, as well as Israeli human rights groups like B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence, she insists that Israel meets international standards for human rights. Indeed, she has referred to Israel as “our beacon of democracy in the Mideast.” One of her goals as president, she said, would be “to bring in American support again in a big way for Israel.”

What differentiates her from the rest of the Democratic field, however, was that Klobuchar was the only one of the original six senators running for president to support last year’s Republican-sponsored Senate Bill 1 (S.1), which was designed to support efforts by states to punish those who boycott Israel, Israeli settlements, the Israeli occupation, or companies supporting the occupation and settlements. (Twenty-six states have enacted such legislation.) Not only did Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren come out in opposition to the bill, even staunchly pro-Israel senators like Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris thought the bill was too extreme and also voted no.

Particularly controversial was language in the bill re-defining Israel to include “Israeli-controlled territories,” thereby putting Klobuchar on record as supporting punishing companies that may have normal business dealings with Israel itself but which honor calls by the United Nations and European Union for businesses to not deal with illegal Israeli settlements. This clause led moderate pro-Israel groups — such as J Street and Americans for Peace Now, both of which oppose the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign — to come out against the legislation.

The use of boycotts has long been recognized as a First Amendment right. Indeed, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) came out strongly against S.1. When the Klobuchar-backed measure passed, the ACLU released a statement saying, “Today the Senate chose politics over the Constitution and trampled on the First Amendment rights of all Americans.”

Even Republican Sen. Rand Paul opposed the bill, noting “our country was founded upon the concept and in the midst of a great boycott,” adding, “There is likely nothing more American than to protest, to dissent, and to boycott.” ...
Read full report at Truthout