WASHINGTON (JTA) — Some 5,000 activists for Christians United for Israel spent the final day of their Washington policy conference lobbying for a bill that would restrict Israel boycotts, among other legislative actions.
The speaking roster for the three-day conference included a video address by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and live speeches by Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to Washington and a senior adviser to Netanyahu. Haley has made support for Israel a central plank of her tenure at the U.N.
CUFI activists pushed a bill that would extend some longstanding restrictions against complying with the Arab League Boycott to businesses that comply with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement targeting Israel. The bill has backers in both parties.
Activists met with 98 percent of lawmakers or their staff members, a CUFI spokesman told JTA.
But the speaking roster was otherwise uniformly Republican, including Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and the tone of the conference was a triumphant welcome of President Donald Trump’s replacement of President Barack Obama. Previous conferences have had at least token Democratic representation.
“For years CUFI was at odds with the previous administration on a wide range of issues, but since President Trump took office we’ve seen one victory after another,” CUFI’s founder, Pastor John Hagee, said in a statement. “We are here in Washington advocating for issues that will strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship during a time when the White House is keenly interested in doing just that.”
Speaker after speaker cited Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and his pullout this year from the Iran nuclear deal.
Also speaking was Stuart Force, the father of Taylor Force, an American slain in Israel in 2016 by a Palestinian terrorist. CUFI was one of several major movers behind a law enacted this year by Trump that slashes funding to the Palestinians as long as the Palestinian Authority continues payments to those who have killed Israelis or their families.