April 12, 2019

After being sworn in on Thursday, Elan Carr, President Trump's new special envoy for combating anti-Semitism, established that he finds any boycott of Israel to be anti-Semitic.

"An individual has the right to buy or not buy what they please," said Carr, a former prosecutor from Los Angeles. "However, if there is an organized movement to economically strangle the state of Israel, that is anti-Semitic. We are going to focus relentlessly on eradicating this false distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism."

Under international law, Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories are considered illegal, but Carr suggested that extending the boycott to include those areas is also anti-Semitic. "Two communities that are living side by side, and one refuses to buy from Jews and one wants to buy from non-Jews, I think that's very clear what that is," he said.

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, started by Palestinians, aims to pressure Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank. BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti was supposed to fly from Tel Aviv to the U.S. on Wednesday, but was not allowed to board the plane. Barghouti was going to go on a speaking tour and visit with a rabbi in Chicago. He said he's not sure why he wasn't able to fly, considering he has a visa he used before, but suspects it is "ideologically and politically motivated." Carr said BDS is not "a ragtag group," and because they want to "deny the state of Israel economic prosperity ... that is anti-Semitism." Catherine Garcia

June 5, 2018

If you are a betting person, don't put any money on the winner of the NBA Finals visiting the White House to celebrate their victory.

"I know no matter who wins this series, no one wants an invite anyway," LeBron James said Tuesday. "It won't be Cleveland or Golden State going." The basketball star's remarks came one day after President Trump uninvited the Philadelphia Eagles from the White House; the 2018 Super Bowl champions were supposed to be fêted during a ceremony, but after several players said they weren't going to attend, Trump canceled the visit.

This was "typical" of Trump, James said. "As long as he's in office, then the communication and things like that are going to continue to happen. It's a lot of things that we believe in as Americans that we don't feel that he's for. There are a lot of people that believe that he's not for the people or doing things that's right by the people." James lauded the Eagles for their championship, and said that's "way bigger than getting invited to the White House, especially with him in there, in my opinion."

Golden State players Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant agreed that their team also won't go if they win, and coach Steve Kerr said Trump has made it "pretty clear that he's going to try to divide us, all of us in this country, for political gain," and he looks forward to "the day when we can go back to just having a celebration of athletic achievement and celebrate Americans for their achievement, their good deeds." Catherine Garcia

February 20, 2018

Al Hoffman Jr., a real estate developer and major Republican donor, is closing his wallet to any candidate or group that won't agree to renew the ban on assault weapons.

Hoffman, a Palm Beach resident and former finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, told MSNBC on Monday that following the shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school last week that left 17 people dead, he was trying to figure out a way he could enact change. A friend told him, "Why don't you start withholding checks until you find somebody who will support the advocacy for a gun legislation?" Hoffman said he thought that this was a great idea, and he decided to try to get other Republican donors on board. He's since sent "thousands" of letters out explaining his position and why he wants others to join his boycott. "No money, no guns," he said. "We got to do this."

Bill Clinton signed the Assault Weapons Ban in 1994, but it expired 10 years later under George W. Bush, and it has not been renewed. The ban prohibited the sale of semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15, which is used in many mass shootings. Hoffman said he knows that with many Republican lawmakers refusing to vote for new restrictions on guns this is going to be a tough road, but he's found at least one donor to join him in his boycott, The New York Times reports. Catherine Garcia

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