November 15, 2017
Says who? The “Israel Anti-Boycott Act” tabled by Jew Democrat Benjamin Cardin is gaining wide bipartisan support in the Senate. The bill is getting through the Senate at a lightning fast pace, in hopes that nobody notices. Wow, our legislative branch suddenly looks competent and focused!
Everyone from Ted “If You Won’t Stand with the Jews Than I Won’t Stand with You” Cruz to (((Chuck Schumer))) are co-sponsoring this AIPAC authored bill. If audacity could be compacted into a single piece of legislation, it would be S.720.
The bill seeks to use federal power to punish companies that do business with any entity in the world that does not do business with Israel. The United Nations – for example – is specifically named over its passive and irrelevant declarations suggesting a boycott products produced in Israel’s illegal settlements.
Thanks to the precedent set by Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010), individual persons and companies are one in the same under existing law. That means individuals, churches and other non-business entities who boycott Israel can (and will) be sanctioned and even held criminally liable!
More optics-concerned Jews are complaining about this bill due to the inevitable unintended effect of pushing white liberals on the “fence” about Israel into outright opposition. In some states with BDS laws, the local government blacklists prospective employees who refuse to sign an oath promising not to boycott Israel.
None of this legislation would pass muster in a serious First Amendment trial. BDS laws are an illegal infringement on free speech. While the ACLU is representing individuals being punished by state BDS laws, it has yet to mount the kind of challenge that it does for kicking Christians out of the public square or forcing through gay marriage.
The Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement has made waves in recent years, mobilizing grassroots anger over the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Movement’s one-sided approach and unbalanced politics should be blatantly unappealing to those who seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict that addresses the needs of both peoples.
Even as it fights for the rights of the Palestinians, the BDS Movement fails to acknowledge the parallel rights and interests of Israelis. It promotes the end of the state of Israel without putting forward support for an actual viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Indeed, as communal leaders gather in Los Angeles this week for the annual General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, they’ll be discussing how to promote this type of legislation across the country.
Far from undermining BDS advocates, these laws garner the BDS Movement sympathy from liberal and progressive audiences who may support Israel but are critical of its government – and believe that the free speech protections of the First Amendment must not be trampled.
Having passed over two dozen anti-BDS bills at the state level, their sights are now set on pushing federal legislation, in the form of the “Israel Anti-Boycott Act.”
Such proposals only further alienate progressive audiences – a huge mistake given that research shows they are precisely the critical battleground in the BDS debate.
A joint study released this year by the Anti-Defamation League and the Jerusalem-based Reut Institute found that the BDS Movement primarily aims to build support among a “long tail” of “soft critics” of Israeli policy. These are people who, according to the study, are concerned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the occupation, but “do not share the vision or fundamental motivations of the delegitimizers.”
An effective strategy to oppose BDS would respect and acknowledge the serious concerns of this audience. It would articulate a pro-Israel, anti-occupation platform. It would reaffirm the necessity and justice of states for both the Jewish and Palestinian peoples and seriously hold accountable those who move us away from that goal – including the current, far-right Israeli government.
There is a parallel bill to the Senate’s S.720 that passed the House of Representatives (with 268 votes, again bipartisan) called H.R. 1697 which is even more egregious.
My guess is Jews will seek to combine the two and get them on Trump’s desk. H.R. 1697 will penalize Israel-boycotters with fines and prison time!
Here is a summary.
In other words, one could be punished for following the call from a foreign country to boycott a country “friendly” to the United States. The current AIPAC draft extends the scope of criminality to actions aimed at heeding the boycott call of non-state actors: in this case, the United Nations and the European Union. The proposed legislation also raises the maximum civil penalty from $100,000 to $1 million and doubles the maximum prison sentence to 20 years.
So, besides making illegal any positive response to a “foreign state’s” call not to do business with Israel, the amended legislation now makes it illegal to behave in accordance to U.N. declarations. As the ACLU letter makes clear, the bills make no distinction between doing business with Israel and doing business with companies that are part of Israel’s illegal occupation. So any individual or organization (church group, trade union, academic organization, etc.) or business entity that follows international human rights dictates and refuses to buy products from businesses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, could be subject to prosecution. In effect, the bills therefore make following international human rights law and other conventions illegal.
And let us not forget that although someone might well prevail in a lawsuit brought against them under this legislation, the bills send such a chilling message that many might decide not to even entertain not doing business with Israel. And that is the whole point of these bills.
Perhaps we should not be surprised that U.S. senators would not think past their constituents’ free speech rights. But we should not think that because they have the decency to withdraw their support for these bills they therefore have the moral courage to see the larger human rights issues at hand when it comes to securing rights for Palestinians. For that to happen, it will take continued and concerted grassroots action.
Participate in boycotting Israel in any form (even if they’re selling organs stolen from Palestinian children), and you will go to prison!
The US state and Congress aren’t “dysfunctional.” The Zionist occupied government is actually very effective and successful – it’s just that their definition on pass/fail hinges entirely on the whims of the Jewish billionaires financing both parties.
It’s not that the US government can’t govern. It just won’t govern for you!