THE BLOG

Does Fast Track Supporter Earl Blumenauer Also Support Israeli Settlements?

04/24/2015 02:37 pm ET | Updated Jun 24, 2015

I was recently introduced to the acronym "TSINO" -- "Two-Stater in Name Only." This is someone who claims to support the international consensus for a diplomatic resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict, but 1) refuses to actually help bring it about, or more grievously 2) actively tries to obstruct the efforts of others to help bring it about.

Earlier, I documented that Maryland Senator Ben Cardin is a TSINO (or, as I called him at the time, a "Two State Faker.")

But now I have worse news. Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer -- who has been endorsed by J Street, spoke at the J Street conference, and has been praised by J Street Portland for his support of the two-state solution, is apparently also a TSINO.

I say "apparently" because 1) I want to give Blumenauer the benefit of the doubt -- he has been a strong advocate of diplomacy in general (one of the first Members of Congress to pledge to skip Netanyahu's anti-diplomacy speech to Congress, for example) and 2) the public reporting on this issue -- which barely exists -- is not very good so far, as you will see below.

The Hill reports:

The House Ways and Means Committee approved a trade promotion authority (TPA) measure -- 25-13 -- with only two Democrats lending their support to the divisive bill, highlighting the difficulty President Obama is having courting members of his own party.

As expected, Democratic Reps. Ron Kind (Wis.) and Earl Blumenauer (Ore.) backed the measure.
[...]
Ryan offered an amendment at the end of the markup that incorporated two amendments adopted by the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday night.

One discourages boycotts, divestments and sanctions by European countries against Israel and would allow negotiators to raise the issue in the TTIP talks.

Now, you might think from The Hill account that this is just one more "pro-Israel" thing that Congress is doing -- dog bites man.

But the Senate version of the measure applies to European actions against businesses in "Israeli-controlled territories" -- that is, it aims to prevent European actions to uphold international law with respect to Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Such European actions are supported by Human Rights Watch.

Equating "Israel" with "Israeli settlements in the West Bank" is exactly what this legislation is all about. AIPAC's statement praising the legislation is here. Note how in AIPAC's statement there is no mention of "settlements", the West Bank, or "Israeli-controlled territories," just "Israel." So, whether intentionally or not, The Hill is doing AIPAC's work by failing to distinguish between "Israel" and Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which as the Europeans see it, are illegal under international law.

J Street's statement on the pro-settlement legislation is here. Americans for Peace Now's statement is here. Jewish Voice for Peace's statement is here.

Did Blumenauer use his position to say boo about this? There is no public evidence yet that he did. Blumenauer has unique leverage in this situation. From the point of view of the administration, Blumenauer is an extremely rare commodity: a House Democrat who supports the Ryan-Hatch fast track legislation. House Democrats overwhelmingly oppose it; Minority Leader Pelosi opposes it. Given that a bunch of House Republicans are also going to oppose it, if the number of House Democrats supporting it doesn't somehow increase, the Ryan-Hatch fast track bill is dead as a doornail. The fast track supporters need Blumenauer very badly.

Blumenauer could say: this is supposed to be about "trade," not about undermining European efforts to uphold international law, and I'm not going to support this bill until this provision is taken out. (Yes, yes, I know that "fast track" isn't just about "trade"; I got the memo. We're doing "liberation theology" here, trying to hold people to account for what they claim to believe.) Why isn't Blumenauer using his unique leverage in this situation to defend the principles in which he supposedly believes?

You can ask urge your representatives in Congress to oppose the pro-settlement provision here; you can ask your representatives in Congress to oppose the Ryan-Hatch fast track bill here.