Tell Congress: Freedom of speech must remain guaranteed!
is considering two dangerous bills that could undermine the work of advocates
for a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act (H.R. 1697 and S. 720)
and the Combating BDS Act of 2017 (S. 170)
are part of a larger effort at the federal and state levels to curb freedom of speech
in relation to Israeli government policies with respect to the Occupied
July the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote to members of the Senate to urge them to oppose and
refrain from co-sponsoring the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. The ACLU writes that “the
impacts of the legislation would be antithetical to free speech protections enshrined
in the First Amendment.”
As explained by Lara Friedman in the “Legislative Round-Up,” the
Anti-Boycott Act would, among other things, “amend core U.S. law regarding foreign
boycotts … to make it illegal for U.S. companies to boycott or otherwise
discriminate against settlements based on calls by the UN or the EU.” The Combating BDS Act is meant to support
state-level anti-BDS legislation “by affirming the legal authority of state and
local governments to take tangible actions to counter economic warfare against
Israel,” as stated in the news release introducing the bill. The bills imply that opposition to Israel’s practices
in the Occupied Territories is the same as being anti-Israel. The ELCA
envisions “Israelis and Palestinians co-existing in justice and peace, as
citizens of viable and secure Israeli and Palestinian states” and, therefore,
rejects any attempt to portray criticism of Israel’s practices in the Occupied
Territories as opposition to Israel’s existence. While the ELCA has a
policy of not divesting in relation to Israel and Palestine, does not have a
policy supporting boycotts of goods manufactured in the Occupied Territories or
of Israeli goods and has not called for sanctions, freedom of speech is understood
to be a fundamental right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
Besides the serious problem of curtailing free expression, both bills
also conflate Israel and the settlements, erasing the distinction between
Israel and its illegal settlements in the West Bank, in contradiction of long-standing
U.S. policy and international law.
These bills would put legal
obstacles in the way of non-violent peaceful action meant to bring about social
change and would legislate against the freedom to make choices in the
stewardship of our financial resources.
Contact your members of Congress today. Let them know you oppose
the Anti-Boycott Act and the Combating BDS Act that stifle free speech and
stand in the way of exercising moral choices in using our financial resources.
is currently on recess and so your members of Congress are more likely to be in
their home state right now. We encourage you to reach out to them by email,
phone, and/or in person.
For further information:
Stealth Campaign to Support Settlements – In Congress
Stealth Campaign to Support Settlements – In States
Anti-Boycott Act Is Unconstitutional Infringement on Free Speech, Attempt to
Legitimize Israeli Settlements
Decide for N.A.A.C.P. in Boycott Case
Economic Measures as Nonviolent Tools for Justice in the Israeli-Palestinian
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