Peace Not Walls - August

 

Tell Congress to Affirm Your Right to Responsible Stewardship

Peace Not Walls 2

On July 30, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a nonbinding resolution that expressed its opposition to the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement while affirming “the right of U.S. citizens to free speech, including the right to protest or criticize U.S. or foreign government policies.” The resolution (HR 246) passed 398-17.

In the U.S. Senate, the first bill passed in the new session this year (S. 1, Feb. 5) was entitled “Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act,” which, among other things, “allows a state or local government to adopt measures to divest its assets from entities using boycotts, divestments, or sanctions to influence Israel's policies.” These policies include Israel’s continuing occupation of Palestinian lands, its recent approval of new settlement construction in the West Bank and its possible annexation of parts of the West Bank in contravention of international law and UN resolutions.

These resolutions and bills demonstrate that most members of Congress are prepared to do whatever is necessary to support Israel and its policies, even when such support conflicts with U.S. principles and constitutional rights, including free speech. They follow the US Administration’s several unilateral actions that undermine the possibility of a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that punish Palestinians living under military occupation and refugees, and that further frustrate the quest for peace, justice and equality in the region.

Even so, there is a glimmer of hope. Also on July 30, a separate resolution (HR 496) was referred to the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties. That resolution affirms “that all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad, as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.” It asserts the right to boycott in support of human rights, opposes legislative initiatives to restrict that right and calls on Congress to protect it. The principles of the resolution echo those that churches asserted when, in a Nov. 2017 letter to President Trump and members of Congress, they “reject[ed] any efforts by the state to curtail these rights.”

Now is the time to reassert your conviction to be a responsible steward of your financial resources. Call and/or write to your elected representative today and defend your right to use economic leverage in support of peace and justice any- and everywhere, including in the context of Israel/Palestine. Ask how s/he voted on HR 246, express your support for HR 496 based on your faith values and your constitutional rights, and urge her/him to support the latter resolution.

Feel free to use this sample letter when you contact your representative:

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  • Your Representative

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Dear [Decision Maker],

Thank you for your consideration,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]