Archive for the ‘Boycott Israel’ Category

Israel Must Be Boycotted Unless It Saves Our Lives – Algemeiner

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Saeb Erekat. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Weve seen before how BDS activists talk big about boycotting Israel which really means thateveryoneelsemust boycott Israel.

We know, for example, how Omar Barghouti wants everyone to boycott Israeli universities, while he attended (attends?) one. Weve also seen how BDS groupshappily use Israeli website technology and even try tojustifyit.

Now we canaddSaeb Erekat to this list. Erekat haspublicly calledfor BDS policies to be adopted in Europe. But now he needs medical help in Israel, andhe doesnt hesitate to use it:

Palestinian Authority chief negotiator and secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization Saeb Erekat has a serious lung disease and is currently on the waiting list for a transplant in Israel and the US, according to a report Tuesday on the Ynet news site.

Erekat, 62, was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis over a year ago and had been on medications that were effectively treating the disease. However, the drugs stopped working several months ago, and his condition has since deteriorated dramatically.

The chief PA negotiator has been receiving additional treatment at a hospital in central Israel, but doctors have warned that his condition cannot improve without an immediate transplant, the report said.

Suddenly, Israeli goods and services seem to be not so terrible!

Erekat could go to Europe or an Arab country to get the transplant and treatment. Butyou guessed it he chooses Israel.

The hypocrisy doesnt end there. The Palestinian Authority has recently slashed the number of medical permits for Gazans to get treated in Israel. YetErekat, of course,hasto get the best medical care possible.

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Israel Must Be Boycotted Unless It Saves Our Lives – Algemeiner

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August 3, 2017   Posted in: Boycott Israel  Comments Closed

Palestinian boycott leader waits for lung transplant in Israel – WND.com

(BREITBART) Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians chief negotiator and a global leader in the effort to boycott Israel, is reported to be on a waiting list for a lung transplant in Israel.

Israels Ynetnews reports that Erekat suffers from pulmonary fibrosis and is on the waiting list for a lung transplant in Israel or the United States. Erect, 62, has reportedly already begun medical treatment in Israel, but his condition is so bad that he will need a lung transplant to survive.

The irony is rich. Erekat is one of the leading proponents of the boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to isolate Israel internationally. BDS hopes that treating Israel like apartheid South Africa will force it to make concessions at the negotiating table or, like the former South African regime, to collapse. On campuses throughout the U.S., and in legislatures across Europe, BDS advocates inveigh against any connections with Israel.

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Legal Expert: ACLU Misrepresenting Senate Bill Against Israel Boycotts – TheTower.org

In its criticism ofSenate legislation against anti-Israel boycotts, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has falsely described the bill as an unconstitutional attack on free speech, a legal scholar arguedin The Washington Post on Thursday.

The ACLUs claims that Israel Anti-Boycott Actinhibits the free expression of ideas areas weak as they are dramatic, argued Eugene Kontorovich, a law professor at Northwestern University.

The new legislation is actuallya minor updating of a venerable statute,namely the 1977 Export Administration Act, which prohibits U.S. entities from participating in or cooperating with international boycotts organized by foreign countries, Kontorovich explained. For example, telling a Saudi company, You know, we dont happen to do business with the Zionist entity would be prohibited.

While the 1977 act used broad language, it wasexplicitly aimed at the Arab states boycott of Israel,Kontorovich noted. The law has beenupheld against First Amendment challenges in the yearsafter its passage and has not raised any constitutional concerns in nearly four decades since, he added.

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act is a necessary extension of the 1977 measures, Kontorovich wrote, because United Nations agencies have begun the process of organizing boycotts of Israel:

Several United Nations agencies have initiated secondary boycotts of Israel that is, boycotting non-Israeli companies because of their connection to the Jewish state. In support of such secondary boycotts, the U.N. Human Rights Council is preparing a blacklist of Israeli-linked companies (using such a broad definition of supporting settlements that the blacklist could sweep in any Israeli-linked firm).

The UNHRCs efforts to boycott Israel are unprecedented, given that the Human Rights Council clearly does not regard businesses supporting settlements to be a human rights issue except when Israel is involved. (Kontorovich argued this point before the UNHRC last month.)

In particular, Kontorovich took issue with the ACLUs charge that the bill would penalize someone for expressing support of anti-Israel boycotts:

There is nothing in the bill to sustain such a criticism. The old law already forbids support for foreign state boycotts of Israel, and the many regulations enacted pursuant to the law already define support to be limited to certain specified actions that go well beyond merely speech support. The new bill does not change or alter the meaning of support. It simply clarifies the list of foreign boycotts covered by the law.

He pointed out that the current laws ban on support of the Arab League boycott has never been used to punish opponents of Israel simply for expression. The expansion of the list of covered boycotts in the new bill wouldnot make it any easier to go after boycott activists.’

In short, Kontorovich wrote, the proposed statute is a timely action to expand the list of prohibited foreign boycotts with which it is forbidden to comply. The legislation does nothing to restrict anti-Israel expressions or even local BDS activity. Anyone who wishes to express their opposition to Israel through boycotts isentirely free to do so.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D Md.), the chief sponsor of the legislation, and Sen. Rob Portman (R Ohio) alsorejected the ACLUs criticism of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, writing earlier this month:

Individuals who actively avoid purchasing goods and services because of their own political viewpoint would not be subject to the bill. Similarly, the bill does not regulate civil society organizations who are critical of Israeli policies or prevent them from speaking in favor of BDS. The legislation does not encourage or compel persons to do business with Israel, nor does it punish individuals or companies from refusing to do business with Israel based on their own political beliefs, for purely pragmatic reasons, or for no reason stated at all. Any suggestion that this bill creates potential criminal or civil liability for these actions is false.

Josh Block, president and CEO of The Israel Project, noted this week in The Hill that the ACLUs opposition to the Israel Anti-Boycott Act comes asa senior member of the organization tweeted that Israeli leaders were exploiting anti-Semitism for political purposes and that anti-Zionism is not linked toanti-Semitisma position rejected by top Jewish leaders and diverse public figuresincluding former British Chief RabbiJonathan Sacks, Anti-Defamation League CEOJonathan Greenblatt,Pope Francis, Minority Leader Sen.Chuck Schumer, French PresidentEmmanuel Macron, and Secretary-General of the UNAntnio Guterres.

It is appalling to see one of the longest-standing and most venerated civil rights organizations in our countrys history disseminating misinformation, fomenting anti-Semitism and lauding hatemongers,Blockobserved.

The Israel Project publishes The Tower.

[Photo:randomwithRon/ YouTube ]

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Bills in North Carolina, Congress Target Companies That Boycott Israel – The Independent Weekly

North Carolina senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis have cosponsored a bill that could impose stiff criminal and civil penalties for engaging in a boycott of Israel or its occupied territories. A similaralbeit less draconianstate bill, passed in the General Assembly in June, currently sits on Governor Coopers desk.

These bills target the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, or BDS, which seeks to stop companies and individuals from supporting businesses that work in Israeli settlements.

Modeled after the anti-apartheid movement, BDS began in 2005 to put pressure on Israel to end policies like its occupation of Palestinian territories, which is considered illegal under international law.

Rahul Saksena, an attorney with the Chicago-based nonprofit Palestine Legal, says he first saw pro-Israel groups shifting their attention toward state legislatures two years ago, a move he thinks was prompted by more Americans supporting BDS.

According to Beth Bruch, a member of Jewish Voices for Peaces Triangle chapter, efforts like these are clear attempts to silence constitutionally protected dissent against Israeli policies. I think this sort of bill is trying to just intimidate corporations and others from engaging actively in solidarity by making them think that there will be consequences, Bruch says.

On July 17, the ACLU sent a letter to U.S. senators sharply criticizing the federal Israel Anti-Boycott Act, pointing out that the bill would threaten serious financial penalties or jail time simply for opposing Israeli policy.

We take no position for or against the effort to boycott Israel or any foreign country, for that matter, the ACLU wrote. However, we do assert that the government cannot, consistent with the First Amendment, punish U.S. persons based solely on their expressed political beliefs.

According to the ACLU, the bill would expand the Export Administration Act of 1979 and the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, which prohibits engaging in a boycott of nations friendly to the U.S. and carries a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and twenty years in prison. (Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat and the lead author of the bill, told The Intercept that he and other supporters did not intend for the bill to carry criminal penalties and would be open to amending it.)

Burr signed on to the bill in May, while Tillis became a cosponsor in late July. Neither senator responded to requests for comment.

The General Assemblys anti-BDS bill, House Bill 161, would require the state to divest from any company the state treasurer determines is boycotting Israel. It also prohibits any state agency or municipality from contracting with companies that are boycotting Israel. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, if HB 161 becomes law, North Carolina would be the twenty-first state to enact anti-BDS legislation.

Since the bill passed 9421 in the House and 45-3 in the Senate, legislators likely have the votes to override Coopers veto, should the governor decide not to sign it.

Like with the national legislation, state ACLU policy director Sarah Gillooly says bills like HB 161 unconstitutionally limit First Amendment rights.

Economic boycotts are a form of expression that the Supreme Court has ruled is protected by the First Amendment, Gillooly writes in an email. North Carolina cant blacklist companies or force them to give up their constitutional rights simply because lawmakers dont like their views.”

Joseph Blocher, a Duke law professor, says the constitutional questions raised by anti-BDS laws are not entirely settled. While a boycott is a protected form of speech and denying government benefits for engaging in a boycott would almost always be a constitutional violation, the state can argue that choosing not to do business with these companies is exercising in its own speech.

The government has the power to control its own message, for example, by deciding which programs it wants to subsidize in the first place. Blocher says. Thats whats called government speech, and one might argue that HB 161 is just a matter of North Carolina choosing not to support certain viewpoints with which it disagrees.

State Representative Jon Hardister, a Republican sponsor, says that while its ultimately for the courts to decide if HB 161 is constitutional, he sees no issue with the state not doing business with those who want to economically damage an ally he believes is important for national security.

When youre dealing with companies that are trying to hurt an ally, an international ally, thats when I think you have a problem, and its admissible for the state to take action, he says. Hardister adds that he doesnt believe many companies will be affected by the bill; he says its meant as more of a preventative measure.

Karah Manning, a spokeswoman for the treasurers office, says its difficult to determine if any companies meet the criteria laid out in HB 161. But if the bill becomes law, the treasurer will make a list publicly available within 120 days.

Brian Hauss, an ACLU attorney, says that even if a law is largely symbolic, it can still chill speech.

If there is a lot out there that says or at least suggests that a certain kind of speech is being prohibited and it threatens really severe sanctions if you engage in it, then a lot of people are just not going to engage in it because thats the smarter thing to do, and that is a First Amendment harm.”

Governor Cooper has not responded to multiple requests for comment. He has until July 30 to decide whether to sign HB 161.

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How the Israel Anti-Boycott Act Threatens First Amendment Rights – ACLU (blog)

Last week, the ACLU came out against a bill that would criminalize constitutionally protected boycotts and certain speech targeting Israel. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which was introduced in both the House and Senate earlier this year, would expand a 1970s-era export law and expose a range of activity to sweeping penalties, including criminal prosecution.

Since we sent our letter to Congress setting out our opposition to the bill, weve received dozens of questions about what it actually does. We attempt to answer the most common ones below.

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act principally seeks to amend the Export Administration Act of 1979. That law prohibits U.S. persons a term that refers to both individuals and companies from taking certain actions to comply with or support a boycott imposed by a foreign country against another country that is friendly to the United States.

The 1979 law responded to the Arab Leagues boycott of Israel. At the time, countries in the Arab League would require U.S. businesses to boycott Israel and Israeli companies, and furnish information to verify the boycott, as a condition of doing business. To prevent foreign countries from dragooning U.S. businesses into these compulsory boycotts, the 1979 law prohibited U.S. companies from complying with foreign boycott requirements.

Specifically, the 1979 law prohibits U.S. persons from boycotting a friendly country i.e., by refusing to do business with the boycotted country or with a company operating in that country pursuant to an agreement with, requirement of, or request from another country. It also prohibits the furnishing of information about U.S. persons business relationships in the boycotted country.

For example, suppose a U.S. company had wanted to do business in Saudi Arabia, but Saudi Arabia would allow it to operate in its territory only if the company suspended business ties with Israel and reported its dealings to prove its compliance. The 1979 law would prohibit the U.S. company from complying with the Saudi governments boycott demand and from furnishing information about its business dealings with Israel.

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act was drafted in response to the U.N. Human Rights Councils (UNHRC) March 2016 resolution calling for the creation of a database of companies operating in the occupied Palestinian territories. The bills statement of policy declares that Congress opposes the UNHRC resolution and views such policies as actions to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel.

The bills operative provisions expand the 1979 law by prohibiting U.S. persons from boycotting Israel and Israeli businesses including businesses operating in the occupied Palestinian territories in adherence to boycotts called for by international governmental organizations, such as the United Nations and the European Union. The bill would also prohibit U.S. persons from not only furnishing, but even requesting information about any persons business relations with Israel, if done to support a foreign countrys or international governmental organizations call for boycott.

The bill states that violators shall be fined in accordance with the penalties laid out in Section 206 of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. That section provides that violations are punishable by a civil penalty that could reach $250,000 and that willful violations are subject to criminal prosecution, which could result in a fine of up to $1 million and 20 years in prison.

The existing law would be amended as follows (with amendments in bold):

For the purpose of implementing the policies set forth in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (5) of section 4602 of this title, the President shall issue regulations prohibiting any United States person, with respect to his activities in the interstate or foreign commerce of the United States, from taking or knowingly agreeing to take any of the following actions with intent to comply with, further, or support any boycott fostered or imposed by a foreign country, or request to impose any boycott by a foreign country, against a country which is friendly to the United States and which is not itself the object of any form of boycott pursuant to United States law or regulation, or support any boycott fostered or imposed by any international governmental organization against Israel or request to impose any boycott by any international governmental organization against Israel.

As written, the bill would prohibit a U.S. person from:

The bills amendments would significantly expand the 1979 laws prohibitions, untethering them from Congress original concern about foreign governments coercing U.S businesses into boycotting friendly countries in exchange for commercial relations. Instead, the bill risks penalizing U.S. individuals and companies that support a U.N.-led boycott movement by refusing to purchase goods made by certain companies.

In other words, the original intent of the law was to protect U.S. companies from the coercion of foreign governments. While the law may have been overbroad, Congress new amendments make the problem worse. Now, it is the U.S. government prohibiting people from participating in certain boycotts that they wish to join.

On its face, the bill appears to directly prohibit boycott activity that is protected under the First Amendment. Even if the bill could be interpreted more narrowly, as some of its supporters claim, its broad language could still chill protected expression by scaring people into self-censorship. Either way, the bill would impose serious First Amendment harms.

Some people have argued that the bill effectively accomplishes nothing, because no international governmental organization is currently engaged in a boycott against Israel. But, as noted above, the bills statement of policy expressly opposes the UNHRCs March 2016 resolution calling for a database of companies operating in the occupied Palestinian territories, and it declares that Congress views such policies as actions to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel.

Reading the bill in light of its own statement of policy, a reasonable person could plausibly infer that the UNHRCs March 2016 resolution amounts to a request for a boycott within the meaning of the bill. That would mean that anyone who attempts to support the resolution, as Congress has described it, by refusing to purchase goods made in Israel or the occupied Palestinian territories would be violating the law. Given the severe penalties at stake, many people would undoubtedly choose to refrain rather than risk prosecution.

But even apart from limiting the right to boycott by refusing to purchase goods for political reasons, the bill infringes on pure speech. It prohibits even requests for information about whether a person is doing business in Israel in order to support a boycott of Israel, regardless of whether the requester is actually engaged in a boycott. This additional prohibition will chill people from seeking information about companies boycotting Israel or engaged in business dealings in Israel.

For example, suppose a consumer wishes to make a decision about whether to purchase a product made by a certain company. She posts a request on Facebook seeking information about that companys environmental, labor rights, or human rights record. Her request is protected speech. But if the company she is asking about operates in the occupied Palestinian territories, and she is asking about that activity in order to support the U.N.s resolution and then publicly shares any information she receives, she would have reason to fear prosecution under the law.

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is a global campaign that seeks to apply economic and political pressure on Israel to comply with international law. Because the BDS movement is not itself an international governmental organization, support for BDS and its activities should not violate the bills provisions. However, BDSs members and supporters may refer to international governmental organizations boycott requests or policies to support their own advocacy. Thus, the bill threatens to sanction a BDS-supporting individual or company that declares an intention to boycott every business listed in the UNHRC database. The bill also threatens to sanction BDS supporters who identify companies dealing with businesses listed in the UNHRC database.

Additionally, even though BDS participation does not by itself violate the bills provisions, BDS members and supporters may fear that they will be targeted for investigation based on their affiliation and expressive activities, and self-censor accordingly.

The Office of Antiboycott Compliances website explicitly states:

The term U.S. person includes all individuals, corporations and unincorporated associations resident in the United States, including the permanent domestic affiliates of foreign concerns. U.S. persons also include U.S. citizens abroad (except when they reside abroad and are employed by non-U.S. persons) and the controlled in fact affiliates of domestic concerns.

Even if the government has in the past chosen to pursue penalties against corporations, not individuals, the bills language plainly applies to individuals. And even if the government promises not to prosecute individual consumers under the bill, such a promise can be changed at any time, at the whim of any presidential administration. Because the bill applies to individuals, flesh and blood people have reason to be concerned that their own protected boycott activity and speech could violate the law.

The ACLU believes that the 1979 law is overbroad. However, courts upheld the law against First Amendment challenge, concluding that it was a sufficiently narrow attempt to prevent foreign countries from dragooning American businesses into boycotts against Israel, thereby raising delicate foreign policy questions. Whatever their merits, these rulings envisioned a narrow scope for the law and did not involve challenges by individuals engaged in political speech and advocacy.

The bill goes beyond any such narrow scope. The UNHRC does not engage in trade with U.S. companies, and the law is not narrowly tailored to situations involving export relationships that trigger foreign policy concerns. The bill threatens to sanction businesses and individuals who seek to demonstrate their support for the UNHRCs March 2016 resolution and similar future policies by the EU or international governmental organizations through protected speech and boycott activity.

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Ross bill pulls state out of companies that boycott Israel – Burlington Times News

The Times-News

North Carolina will divest from companies that boycott Israel after Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law a bill sponsored by Rep. Stephen Ross, R-Burlington.

Ross filed H161 Divestment From Companies That Boycott Israel on Feb. 21 with Reps. Jon Hardister, R-Guilford, and John Szoka, R-Cumberland. Cooper signed the bill Thursday.

H161 will strengthen the states economic ties with Israel and show North Carolinas dedication to one of our closest allies, Ross office said Thursday.

The bill requires divestment from, and prohibits state agencies from contracting with, companies that boycott Israel. It also amends existing Sudan and Iran Divestment statutes.

Today is a significant day for North Carolina, Ross said. Its important for our state to stand with Israel against boycotts that threaten Israels sovereignty. This bill protects North Carolinas economy from efforts to restrict trade and affirms our states economic commitments to Israel.

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Listen: California Democrats defend right to boycott Israel – The Electronic Intifada (blog)

Nora Barrows-Friedman The Electronic Intifada Podcast 24 July 2017

The California Democratic Party has approved a resolution calling on the US government to promote a just peace based on full equality and security for Israeli Jews and Palestinians alike, human rights and international law.

The resolution, which passed without debate at the annual state chapter conference in May, admonishes Israels settlement activities, as well as its denial of entry to activists who criticize the state.

It also decries the historic failures of the US government to take action against Israel with actual steps to change the status quo and bring about a real peace process.

Endorsed by more than 200 delegates at the California conference, the resolution breaks from the traditional mantras of the Democratic Party of prioritizing Israels military security, support of the two-state solution or pursuing yet another failed negotiations process, explained David Mandel, an author of the resolution.

Notably, the resolution also rejects any effort to restrict or discourage open public discourse on issues related to Israeli policies and opposes any attempt to restrict or penalize those who exercise their views through nonviolent action to effect change, signaling support for activists who engage with the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign and who face expanding repression on campuses and by local, state and federal legislatures.

The resolution is based on human rights, and also, really importantly to me, it criticizes any attempt to stifle debate, which has been happening all over the country, both in Congress and in a lot of states, including California, to stigmatize and suppress activism for boycotts and divestment, Mandel told The Electronic Intifada podcast.

Mandel said he hopes that this resolution encourages other activists around the US who are fighting for progressive policy platforms in the national Democratic Party, especially as Democrats and Republicans are considering passing the federal Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which would make it a felony for companies to participate in an international commercial boycott of Israel.

Those found guilty could potentially face $250,000 to $1 million in fines and 20 years in prison.

This resolution will be a small arrow in our quiver of opposing those kinds of things, but hopefully it will lead to examples in other states and help us out in opposing that kind of suppression of speech, Mandel said.

The easy passage of the resolution indicates that the partys members are rapidly shifting their opinions about the US-Israel relationship, added Estee Chandler, a Democratic activist who campaigned for the resolution.

Both Chandler and Mandel are members of Jewish Voice for Peace but worked on the resolution as private citizens.

Opinions are changing among American Jews and others who until recently were reticent to express any serious criticism of Israeli policy, Chandler said. She added that the belligerent pro-Israel stance of the Trump administration and the appointment of settlement financier David Friedman as the US ambassador to Israel has deeply upset Democratic Party members.

What Im finding as a Democratic activist is that more and more Democrats of all stripes are alarmed by the situation, the extreme policies of Israel and the violence of the occupation, she said.

Listen to the interview with David Mandel and Estee Chandler via the media player above.

Theme music by Sharif Zakout

Subscribe to The Electronic Intifada podcast on Apple Podcast (search for The Electronic Intifada). Support our podcast by rating us and leaving a review.

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Robert Azzi: Congress assails First Amendment, BDS, Palestinians … – Concord Monitor

An advocate must be free to stimulate his audience with spontaneous and emotional appeals for unity and action in a common cause. When such appeals do not incite lawless action, they must be regarded as protected speech. (NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co., 1982)

In contradiction to such sentiments, Sen. Maggie Hassan is co-sponsoring a Senate bill Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S.720/H.R.1697) that would make it a felony for Americans to support an international boycott against Israel.

Its a bill designed to strip Americans of constitutionally protected rights, a bill that targets supporters of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement that works to end international support for Israels oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law.

Boycotts to achieve political goals, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has written, are a form of expression that the Supreme Court has ruled are protected by the First Amendments protections of freedom of speech, assembly and petition.

BDS is designed to give Palestinians and their supporters a nonviolent platform from which to resist occupation and illegal settlement activity, activity which the international community believes is a flagrant violation of international law without legal validity, activities condemned by innumerable U.N. resolutions from No. 242 to No. 2334 and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

In 2014, Nobel Peace laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu said: I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces. Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.

BDS is designed to empower Palestinians to resist that humiliation.

In response to (S.720/H.R.1697) the ACLU has written: The bill would amend those laws to bar U.S. persons from supporting boycotts against Israel, including its settlements in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, conducted by international governmental organizations, such as the United Nations and the European Union. It would also broaden the law to include penalties for simply requesting information about such boycotts. Violations would be subject to a maximum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison. We take no position for or against the effort to boycott Israel or any foreign country, for that matter. However, we do assert that the government cannot, consistent with the First Amendment, punish U.S. persons based solely on their expressed political beliefs.

This bill would impose civil and criminal punishment on individuals solely because of their political beliefs about Israel and its policies.

I support BDS because its a nonviolent response that I recognize initiated by Palestinian civil society to the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory, to the oppression of Palestinians, to the continued incarceration of hundreds of Palestinians held under administrative detention without either indictment or trial.

BDS does not delegitimize Israel; it delegitimizes illegal occupation and oppression.

In April, BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti said, Twelve years ago, we were called romantic dreamers or worse. Today, our fast-growing movement is recognized as being so strong as to be fought by the full force of Israels regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid, and by its partners in crime.

Partners like members of the United State Congress whove aligned themselves with oligarchs and power brokers, partners who not only oppose BDS but who oppose making political and economic distinctions between Israel and occupied Palestinian territory.

I support BDS because I recognized, and supported, the boycott in South Africa that helped to strike down apartheid. I supported the Montgomery bus boycott and the Delano grape strike because I believe in justice.

Because I recognize that were called upon to resist oppression and occupation.

I recognize, too, that even when boycotts dont change anything, as in the anti-Nazi boycott of 1933 that did nothing to stop the harassment of German Jews, that its morally necessary to act.

As Rabbi Stephen S. Wise of the American Jewish Congress said at the time, We must speak out, and If that is unavailing, at least we shall have spoken.

BDS is working.

In 2016, the EU, along with Sweden, Ireland and the Netherlands, affirmed the right to support BDS as protected by freedom of speech and freedom of association.

Last month the Spanish parliament unanimously passed a motion affirming the right to advocate for BDS as protected by freedom of speech and freedom of association.

BDS is working.

BDS supporters know its working because of the scale of resources its opponents are devoting to delegitimize and criminalize the nonviolent movement including getting members of Congress to emasculate the First Amendment.

I know BDS is controversial. Some of my dearest friends dont support it at all; others want BDS to apply only to the occupied territories.

I get that, and support their choice.

However, those friends and I do agree that the Israel Anti-Boycott Act is unjust and is a blatant attempt to dissuade American supporters of Palestinian freedom and justice from engaging in protected political speech and action.

Resisting violence is easy. Use greater violence and destroy, imprison and emasculate the enemy. If they resist, hit them harder.

Resisting nonviolence is harder you cant bomb non-violent resisters into submission.

So, to counter BDSs nonviolent philosophy, Israels calling upon America to violently defile existential imperatives and collude in squelching First Amendment rights.

Pay attention: (S.720/H.R.1697) aligns America with governments that choose to deal with dissent and protest by limiting freedoms and speech governments like Poland, Russia, Turkey, Israel and Egypt.

Were not like them. Were better than that.

Pay attention: If speech can be criminalized in order to oppress Palestinians then it could as easily be used against any other group that displease the government or oligarchs in the future.

Pay attention: Last week Vice President Mike Pence said, America stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel, as together we confront those enemies who threaten our people, our freedom and our very way of life.

What he, and Hassan, fail to recognize is that those who threaten our people, our freedom, and our very way of life is us that were in danger of becoming our enemy.

Let us speak out: If that is unavailing, at least we shall have spoken.

(Robert Azzi is a photographer and writer who lives in Exeter. He can be reached at theother.azzi@gmail.com and his columns are archived at theotherazzi.wordpress.com.)

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The First Amendment Protects the Right to Boycott Israel – ACLU (blog)

Earlier this week, the ACLU sent a letter to members of Congress opposing the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. The bill would amend existing law to prohibit people in the United States from supporting boycotts targeting Israel making it a felony to choose not to engage in commerce with companies doing business in Israel and its settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Violations would be punishable by a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.

The bill is aimed at advocates of boycotts targeting Israel, most notably the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement a global campaign that seeks to apply economic and political pressure on Israel to comply with international law. Specifically, the bill sponsors intend the act as a response to the U.N. Human Rights Councils 2016 resolution calling on companies to respect human rights, including in occupied Palestinian territories.

No matter what you think about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one thing is clear: The First Amendment protects the right to engage in political boycotts.

In fact, the right to boycott is one of the brightest stars in our constitutional firmament. The American Revolution was founded on boycotts against British goods to protest excessive taxes. John Jay led a boycott against New York merchants who engaged in the slave trade. And the Montgomery bus boycott of 19551956 was a major turning point in the struggle for civil rights in the Jim Crow South. In the 1970s and 1980s, colleges and universities led a widespread campaign to boycott and divest from South Africa, in protest of apartheid. In 2015, football players at the University of Missouri went on strike until the school addressed acute racial tensions on campus. And North Carolinas law prohibiting transgender people from accessing restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identities sparked massive boycotts by businesses and individuals.

Boycotts are a form of collective action that allows ordinary people to make their voices heard. For precisely this reason, the Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment protects the right to boycott. The courts landmark decision in NAACP v Claiborne Hardware Co. affirmed the constitutional right of NAACP activists to hold a mass economic boycott of white-owned businesses in Port Gibson, Mississippi, to protest the communitys persistent racial inequality and segregation. In ringing language, the court held that the boycotters exercise of their rights to speech, assembly, and petition . . . to change a social order that had consistently treated them as second-class citizens rested on the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values.

No matter what you think about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one thing is clear: The First Amendment protects the right to engage in political boycotts.

This is a proud constitutional legacy. Today, though, the right to boycott is under assault. Over the past several years, federal, state, and local legislators have introduced wave after wave of legislation seeking to stamp out boycotts and divestment campaigns aimed at Israel. One such law, passed earlier this year by Nassau County in New York, prohibits the county from doing business with people who support the BDS movement. As a result, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame could be banned from playing at the Nassau Coliseum in New York. Similar laws have been passed in Arizona and Kansas.

None of them comport with the First Amendment.

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act introduced in Congress goes a step further, threatening severe civil and criminal punishment against individuals who refrain from doing business with Israel because of their political opposition to its governments actions. The bill amends two existing laws, the Export Administration Act of 1979 and the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, which prohibit certain boycotts sponsored by foreign governments.

The bill would expand the application of those laws in a number of ways. It would expand the laws to prohibit boycotts called for by international organizations, like the United Nations and the European Union; it would threaten sanctions against people who boycott businesses operating in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories; and it would prohibit even requests for information about companies business relationships with Israel and Israeli companies. This expansive language would likely chill a wide range of political activity in the United States directed at the Israeli government activity that is constitutionally protected, regardless whether members of Congress agree with it.

A number of the bills sponsors were apparently surprised by the ACLUs free speech concerns with the bill. A number of them have now expressed their intention to review the legislation with the ACLUs civil rights and civil liberties concerns in mind. We hope they do the right thing by backing away from any bill that violates our First Amendment rights.

Link:

The First Amendment Protects the Right to Boycott Israel – ACLU (blog)

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July 20, 2017   Posted in: Boycott Israel  Comments Closed

Israel Must Be Boycotted Unless It Saves Our Lives – Algemeiner

Email a copy of “Israel Must Be Boycotted Unless It Saves Our Lives” to a friend Saeb Erekat. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. Weve seen before how BDS activists talk big about boycotting Israel which really means thateveryoneelsemust boycott Israel. We know, for example, how Omar Barghouti wants everyone to boycott Israeli universities, while he attended (attends?) one. Weve also seen how BDS groupshappily use Israeli website technology and even try tojustifyit. Now we canaddSaeb Erekat to this list. Erekat haspublicly calledfor BDS policies to be adopted in Europe. But now he needs medical help in Israel, andhe doesnt hesitate to use it: Palestinian Authority chief negotiator and secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization Saeb Erekat has a serious lung disease and is currently on the waiting list for a transplant in Israel and the US, according to a report Tuesday on the Ynet news site. Erekat, 62, was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis over a year ago and had been on medications that were effectively treating the disease. However, the drugs stopped working several months ago, and his condition has since deteriorated dramatically. The chief PA negotiator has been receiving additional treatment at a hospital in central Israel, but doctors have warned that his condition cannot improve without an immediate transplant, the report said. Suddenly, Israeli goods and services seem to be not so terrible! Erekat could go to Europe or an Arab country to get the transplant and treatment. Butyou guessed it he chooses Israel. The hypocrisy doesnt end there. The Palestinian Authority has recently slashed the number of medical permits for Gazans to get treated in Israel. YetErekat, of course,hasto get the best medical care possible.

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August 3, 2017   Posted in: Boycott Israel  Comments Closed

Palestinian boycott leader waits for lung transplant in Israel – WND.com

(BREITBART) Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians chief negotiator and a global leader in the effort to boycott Israel, is reported to be on a waiting list for a lung transplant in Israel. Israels Ynetnews reports that Erekat suffers from pulmonary fibrosis and is on the waiting list for a lung transplant in Israel or the United States. Erect, 62, has reportedly already begun medical treatment in Israel, but his condition is so bad that he will need a lung transplant to survive. The irony is rich. Erekat is one of the leading proponents of the boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to isolate Israel internationally. BDS hopes that treating Israel like apartheid South Africa will force it to make concessions at the negotiating table or, like the former South African regime, to collapse. On campuses throughout the U.S., and in legislatures across Europe, BDS advocates inveigh against any connections with Israel.

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August 2, 2017   Posted in: Boycott Israel  Comments Closed

Legal Expert: ACLU Misrepresenting Senate Bill Against Israel Boycotts – TheTower.org

In its criticism ofSenate legislation against anti-Israel boycotts, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has falsely described the bill as an unconstitutional attack on free speech, a legal scholar arguedin The Washington Post on Thursday. The ACLUs claims that Israel Anti-Boycott Actinhibits the free expression of ideas areas weak as they are dramatic, argued Eugene Kontorovich, a law professor at Northwestern University. The new legislation is actuallya minor updating of a venerable statute,namely the 1977 Export Administration Act, which prohibits U.S. entities from participating in or cooperating with international boycotts organized by foreign countries, Kontorovich explained. For example, telling a Saudi company, You know, we dont happen to do business with the Zionist entity would be prohibited. While the 1977 act used broad language, it wasexplicitly aimed at the Arab states boycott of Israel,Kontorovich noted. The law has beenupheld against First Amendment challenges in the yearsafter its passage and has not raised any constitutional concerns in nearly four decades since, he added. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act is a necessary extension of the 1977 measures, Kontorovich wrote, because United Nations agencies have begun the process of organizing boycotts of Israel: Several United Nations agencies have initiated secondary boycotts of Israel that is, boycotting non-Israeli companies because of their connection to the Jewish state. In support of such secondary boycotts, the U.N. Human Rights Council is preparing a blacklist of Israeli-linked companies (using such a broad definition of supporting settlements that the blacklist could sweep in any Israeli-linked firm). The UNHRCs efforts to boycott Israel are unprecedented, given that the Human Rights Council clearly does not regard businesses supporting settlements to be a human rights issue except when Israel is involved. (Kontorovich argued this point before the UNHRC last month.) In particular, Kontorovich took issue with the ACLUs charge that the bill would penalize someone for expressing support of anti-Israel boycotts: There is nothing in the bill to sustain such a criticism. The old law already forbids support for foreign state boycotts of Israel, and the many regulations enacted pursuant to the law already define support to be limited to certain specified actions that go well beyond merely speech support. The new bill does not change or alter the meaning of support. It simply clarifies the list of foreign boycotts covered by the law. He pointed out that the current laws ban on support of the Arab League boycott has never been used to punish opponents of Israel simply for expression. The expansion of the list of covered boycotts in the new bill wouldnot make it any easier to go after boycott activists.’ In short, Kontorovich wrote, the proposed statute is a timely action to expand the list of prohibited foreign boycotts with which it is forbidden to comply. The legislation does nothing to restrict anti-Israel expressions or even local BDS activity. Anyone who wishes to express their opposition to Israel through boycotts isentirely free to do so. Sen. Ben Cardin (D Md.), the chief sponsor of the legislation, and Sen. Rob Portman (R Ohio) alsorejected the ACLUs criticism of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, writing earlier this month: Individuals who actively avoid purchasing goods and services because of their own political viewpoint would not be subject to the bill. Similarly, the bill does not regulate civil society organizations who are critical of Israeli policies or prevent them from speaking in favor of BDS. The legislation does not encourage or compel persons to do business with Israel, nor does it punish individuals or companies from refusing to do business with Israel based on their own political beliefs, for purely pragmatic reasons, or for no reason stated at all. Any suggestion that this bill creates potential criminal or civil liability for these actions is false. Josh Block, president and CEO of The Israel Project, noted this week in The Hill that the ACLUs opposition to the Israel Anti-Boycott Act comes asa senior member of the organization tweeted that Israeli leaders were exploiting anti-Semitism for political purposes and that anti-Zionism is not linked toanti-Semitisma position rejected by top Jewish leaders and diverse public figuresincluding former British Chief RabbiJonathan Sacks, Anti-Defamation League CEOJonathan Greenblatt,Pope Francis, Minority Leader Sen.Chuck Schumer, French PresidentEmmanuel Macron, and Secretary-General of the UNAntnio Guterres. It is appalling to see one of the longest-standing and most venerated civil rights organizations in our countrys history disseminating misinformation, fomenting anti-Semitism and lauding hatemongers,Blockobserved. The Israel Project publishes The Tower. [Photo:randomwithRon/ YouTube ]

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July 29, 2017   Posted in: Boycott Israel  Comments Closed

Bills in North Carolina, Congress Target Companies That Boycott Israel – The Independent Weekly

North Carolina senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis have cosponsored a bill that could impose stiff criminal and civil penalties for engaging in a boycott of Israel or its occupied territories. A similaralbeit less draconianstate bill, passed in the General Assembly in June, currently sits on Governor Coopers desk. These bills target the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, or BDS, which seeks to stop companies and individuals from supporting businesses that work in Israeli settlements. Modeled after the anti-apartheid movement, BDS began in 2005 to put pressure on Israel to end policies like its occupation of Palestinian territories, which is considered illegal under international law. Rahul Saksena, an attorney with the Chicago-based nonprofit Palestine Legal, says he first saw pro-Israel groups shifting their attention toward state legislatures two years ago, a move he thinks was prompted by more Americans supporting BDS. According to Beth Bruch, a member of Jewish Voices for Peaces Triangle chapter, efforts like these are clear attempts to silence constitutionally protected dissent against Israeli policies. I think this sort of bill is trying to just intimidate corporations and others from engaging actively in solidarity by making them think that there will be consequences, Bruch says. On July 17, the ACLU sent a letter to U.S. senators sharply criticizing the federal Israel Anti-Boycott Act, pointing out that the bill would threaten serious financial penalties or jail time simply for opposing Israeli policy. We take no position for or against the effort to boycott Israel or any foreign country, for that matter, the ACLU wrote. However, we do assert that the government cannot, consistent with the First Amendment, punish U.S. persons based solely on their expressed political beliefs. According to the ACLU, the bill would expand the Export Administration Act of 1979 and the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, which prohibits engaging in a boycott of nations friendly to the U.S. and carries a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and twenty years in prison. (Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat and the lead author of the bill, told The Intercept that he and other supporters did not intend for the bill to carry criminal penalties and would be open to amending it.) Burr signed on to the bill in May, while Tillis became a cosponsor in late July. Neither senator responded to requests for comment. The General Assemblys anti-BDS bill, House Bill 161, would require the state to divest from any company the state treasurer determines is boycotting Israel. It also prohibits any state agency or municipality from contracting with companies that are boycotting Israel. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, if HB 161 becomes law, North Carolina would be the twenty-first state to enact anti-BDS legislation. Since the bill passed 9421 in the House and 45-3 in the Senate, legislators likely have the votes to override Coopers veto, should the governor decide not to sign it. Like with the national legislation, state ACLU policy director Sarah Gillooly says bills like HB 161 unconstitutionally limit First Amendment rights. Economic boycotts are a form of expression that the Supreme Court has ruled is protected by the First Amendment, Gillooly writes in an email. North Carolina cant blacklist companies or force them to give up their constitutional rights simply because lawmakers dont like their views.” Joseph Blocher, a Duke law professor, says the constitutional questions raised by anti-BDS laws are not entirely settled. While a boycott is a protected form of speech and denying government benefits for engaging in a boycott would almost always be a constitutional violation, the state can argue that choosing not to do business with these companies is exercising in its own speech. The government has the power to control its own message, for example, by deciding which programs it wants to subsidize in the first place. Blocher says. Thats whats called government speech, and one might argue that HB 161 is just a matter of North Carolina choosing not to support certain viewpoints with which it disagrees. State Representative Jon Hardister, a Republican sponsor, says that while its ultimately for the courts to decide if HB 161 is constitutional, he sees no issue with the state not doing business with those who want to economically damage an ally he believes is important for national security. When youre dealing with companies that are trying to hurt an ally, an international ally, thats when I think you have a problem, and its admissible for the state to take action, he says. Hardister adds that he doesnt believe many companies will be affected by the bill; he says its meant as more of a preventative measure. Karah Manning, a spokeswoman for the treasurers office, says its difficult to determine if any companies meet the criteria laid out in HB 161. But if the bill becomes law, the treasurer will make a list publicly available within 120 days. Brian Hauss, an ACLU attorney, says that even if a law is largely symbolic, it can still chill speech. If there is a lot out there that says or at least suggests that a certain kind of speech is being prohibited and it threatens really severe sanctions if you engage in it, then a lot of people are just not going to engage in it because thats the smarter thing to do, and that is a First Amendment harm.” Governor Cooper has not responded to multiple requests for comment. He has until July 30 to decide whether to sign HB 161.

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July 27, 2017   Posted in: Boycott Israel  Comments Closed

How the Israel Anti-Boycott Act Threatens First Amendment Rights – ACLU (blog)

Last week, the ACLU came out against a bill that would criminalize constitutionally protected boycotts and certain speech targeting Israel. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which was introduced in both the House and Senate earlier this year, would expand a 1970s-era export law and expose a range of activity to sweeping penalties, including criminal prosecution. Since we sent our letter to Congress setting out our opposition to the bill, weve received dozens of questions about what it actually does. We attempt to answer the most common ones below. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act principally seeks to amend the Export Administration Act of 1979. That law prohibits U.S. persons a term that refers to both individuals and companies from taking certain actions to comply with or support a boycott imposed by a foreign country against another country that is friendly to the United States. The 1979 law responded to the Arab Leagues boycott of Israel. At the time, countries in the Arab League would require U.S. businesses to boycott Israel and Israeli companies, and furnish information to verify the boycott, as a condition of doing business. To prevent foreign countries from dragooning U.S. businesses into these compulsory boycotts, the 1979 law prohibited U.S. companies from complying with foreign boycott requirements. Specifically, the 1979 law prohibits U.S. persons from boycotting a friendly country i.e., by refusing to do business with the boycotted country or with a company operating in that country pursuant to an agreement with, requirement of, or request from another country. It also prohibits the furnishing of information about U.S. persons business relationships in the boycotted country. For example, suppose a U.S. company had wanted to do business in Saudi Arabia, but Saudi Arabia would allow it to operate in its territory only if the company suspended business ties with Israel and reported its dealings to prove its compliance. The 1979 law would prohibit the U.S. company from complying with the Saudi governments boycott demand and from furnishing information about its business dealings with Israel. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act was drafted in response to the U.N. Human Rights Councils (UNHRC) March 2016 resolution calling for the creation of a database of companies operating in the occupied Palestinian territories. The bills statement of policy declares that Congress opposes the UNHRC resolution and views such policies as actions to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel. The bills operative provisions expand the 1979 law by prohibiting U.S. persons from boycotting Israel and Israeli businesses including businesses operating in the occupied Palestinian territories in adherence to boycotts called for by international governmental organizations, such as the United Nations and the European Union. The bill would also prohibit U.S. persons from not only furnishing, but even requesting information about any persons business relations with Israel, if done to support a foreign countrys or international governmental organizations call for boycott. The bill states that violators shall be fined in accordance with the penalties laid out in Section 206 of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. That section provides that violations are punishable by a civil penalty that could reach $250,000 and that willful violations are subject to criminal prosecution, which could result in a fine of up to $1 million and 20 years in prison. The existing law would be amended as follows (with amendments in bold): For the purpose of implementing the policies set forth in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (5) of section 4602 of this title, the President shall issue regulations prohibiting any United States person, with respect to his activities in the interstate or foreign commerce of the United States, from taking or knowingly agreeing to take any of the following actions with intent to comply with, further, or support any boycott fostered or imposed by a foreign country, or request to impose any boycott by a foreign country, against a country which is friendly to the United States and which is not itself the object of any form of boycott pursuant to United States law or regulation, or support any boycott fostered or imposed by any international governmental organization against Israel or request to impose any boycott by any international governmental organization against Israel. As written, the bill would prohibit a U.S. person from: The bills amendments would significantly expand the 1979 laws prohibitions, untethering them from Congress original concern about foreign governments coercing U.S businesses into boycotting friendly countries in exchange for commercial relations. Instead, the bill risks penalizing U.S. individuals and companies that support a U.N.-led boycott movement by refusing to purchase goods made by certain companies. In other words, the original intent of the law was to protect U.S. companies from the coercion of foreign governments. While the law may have been overbroad, Congress new amendments make the problem worse. Now, it is the U.S. government prohibiting people from participating in certain boycotts that they wish to join. On its face, the bill appears to directly prohibit boycott activity that is protected under the First Amendment. Even if the bill could be interpreted more narrowly, as some of its supporters claim, its broad language could still chill protected expression by scaring people into self-censorship. Either way, the bill would impose serious First Amendment harms. Some people have argued that the bill effectively accomplishes nothing, because no international governmental organization is currently engaged in a boycott against Israel. But, as noted above, the bills statement of policy expressly opposes the UNHRCs March 2016 resolution calling for a database of companies operating in the occupied Palestinian territories, and it declares that Congress views such policies as actions to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel. Reading the bill in light of its own statement of policy, a reasonable person could plausibly infer that the UNHRCs March 2016 resolution amounts to a request for a boycott within the meaning of the bill. That would mean that anyone who attempts to support the resolution, as Congress has described it, by refusing to purchase goods made in Israel or the occupied Palestinian territories would be violating the law. Given the severe penalties at stake, many people would undoubtedly choose to refrain rather than risk prosecution. But even apart from limiting the right to boycott by refusing to purchase goods for political reasons, the bill infringes on pure speech. It prohibits even requests for information about whether a person is doing business in Israel in order to support a boycott of Israel, regardless of whether the requester is actually engaged in a boycott. This additional prohibition will chill people from seeking information about companies boycotting Israel or engaged in business dealings in Israel. For example, suppose a consumer wishes to make a decision about whether to purchase a product made by a certain company. She posts a request on Facebook seeking information about that companys environmental, labor rights, or human rights record. Her request is protected speech. But if the company she is asking about operates in the occupied Palestinian territories, and she is asking about that activity in order to support the U.N.s resolution and then publicly shares any information she receives, she would have reason to fear prosecution under the law. The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is a global campaign that seeks to apply economic and political pressure on Israel to comply with international law. Because the BDS movement is not itself an international governmental organization, support for BDS and its activities should not violate the bills provisions. However, BDSs members and supporters may refer to international governmental organizations boycott requests or policies to support their own advocacy. Thus, the bill threatens to sanction a BDS-supporting individual or company that declares an intention to boycott every business listed in the UNHRC database. The bill also threatens to sanction BDS supporters who identify companies dealing with businesses listed in the UNHRC database. Additionally, even though BDS participation does not by itself violate the bills provisions, BDS members and supporters may fear that they will be targeted for investigation based on their affiliation and expressive activities, and self-censor accordingly. The Office of Antiboycott Compliances website explicitly states: The term U.S. person includes all individuals, corporations and unincorporated associations resident in the United States, including the permanent domestic affiliates of foreign concerns. U.S. persons also include U.S. citizens abroad (except when they reside abroad and are employed by non-U.S. persons) and the controlled in fact affiliates of domestic concerns. Even if the government has in the past chosen to pursue penalties against corporations, not individuals, the bills language plainly applies to individuals. And even if the government promises not to prosecute individual consumers under the bill, such a promise can be changed at any time, at the whim of any presidential administration. Because the bill applies to individuals, flesh and blood people have reason to be concerned that their own protected boycott activity and speech could violate the law. The ACLU believes that the 1979 law is overbroad. However, courts upheld the law against First Amendment challenge, concluding that it was a sufficiently narrow attempt to prevent foreign countries from dragooning American businesses into boycotts against Israel, thereby raising delicate foreign policy questions. Whatever their merits, these rulings envisioned a narrow scope for the law and did not involve challenges by individuals engaged in political speech and advocacy. The bill goes beyond any such narrow scope. The UNHRC does not engage in trade with U.S. companies, and the law is not narrowly tailored to situations involving export relationships that trigger foreign policy concerns. The bill threatens to sanction businesses and individuals who seek to demonstrate their support for the UNHRCs March 2016 resolution and similar future policies by the EU or international governmental organizations through protected speech and boycott activity.

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July 27, 2017   Posted in: Boycott Israel  Comments Closed

Ross bill pulls state out of companies that boycott Israel – Burlington Times News

The Times-News North Carolina will divest from companies that boycott Israel after Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law a bill sponsored by Rep. Stephen Ross, R-Burlington. Ross filed H161 Divestment From Companies That Boycott Israel on Feb. 21 with Reps. Jon Hardister, R-Guilford, and John Szoka, R-Cumberland. Cooper signed the bill Thursday. H161 will strengthen the states economic ties with Israel and show North Carolinas dedication to one of our closest allies, Ross office said Thursday. The bill requires divestment from, and prohibits state agencies from contracting with, companies that boycott Israel. It also amends existing Sudan and Iran Divestment statutes. Today is a significant day for North Carolina, Ross said. Its important for our state to stand with Israel against boycotts that threaten Israels sovereignty. This bill protects North Carolinas economy from efforts to restrict trade and affirms our states economic commitments to Israel.

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July 27, 2017   Posted in: Boycott Israel  Comments Closed

Listen: California Democrats defend right to boycott Israel – The Electronic Intifada (blog)

Nora Barrows-Friedman The Electronic Intifada Podcast 24 July 2017 The California Democratic Party has approved a resolution calling on the US government to promote a just peace based on full equality and security for Israeli Jews and Palestinians alike, human rights and international law. The resolution, which passed without debate at the annual state chapter conference in May, admonishes Israels settlement activities, as well as its denial of entry to activists who criticize the state. It also decries the historic failures of the US government to take action against Israel with actual steps to change the status quo and bring about a real peace process. Endorsed by more than 200 delegates at the California conference, the resolution breaks from the traditional mantras of the Democratic Party of prioritizing Israels military security, support of the two-state solution or pursuing yet another failed negotiations process, explained David Mandel, an author of the resolution. Notably, the resolution also rejects any effort to restrict or discourage open public discourse on issues related to Israeli policies and opposes any attempt to restrict or penalize those who exercise their views through nonviolent action to effect change, signaling support for activists who engage with the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign and who face expanding repression on campuses and by local, state and federal legislatures. The resolution is based on human rights, and also, really importantly to me, it criticizes any attempt to stifle debate, which has been happening all over the country, both in Congress and in a lot of states, including California, to stigmatize and suppress activism for boycotts and divestment, Mandel told The Electronic Intifada podcast. Mandel said he hopes that this resolution encourages other activists around the US who are fighting for progressive policy platforms in the national Democratic Party, especially as Democrats and Republicans are considering passing the federal Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which would make it a felony for companies to participate in an international commercial boycott of Israel. Those found guilty could potentially face $250,000 to $1 million in fines and 20 years in prison. This resolution will be a small arrow in our quiver of opposing those kinds of things, but hopefully it will lead to examples in other states and help us out in opposing that kind of suppression of speech, Mandel said. The easy passage of the resolution indicates that the partys members are rapidly shifting their opinions about the US-Israel relationship, added Estee Chandler, a Democratic activist who campaigned for the resolution. Both Chandler and Mandel are members of Jewish Voice for Peace but worked on the resolution as private citizens. Opinions are changing among American Jews and others who until recently were reticent to express any serious criticism of Israeli policy, Chandler said. She added that the belligerent pro-Israel stance of the Trump administration and the appointment of settlement financier David Friedman as the US ambassador to Israel has deeply upset Democratic Party members. What Im finding as a Democratic activist is that more and more Democrats of all stripes are alarmed by the situation, the extreme policies of Israel and the violence of the occupation, she said. Listen to the interview with David Mandel and Estee Chandler via the media player above. Theme music by Sharif Zakout Subscribe to The Electronic Intifada podcast on Apple Podcast (search for The Electronic Intifada). Support our podcast by rating us and leaving a review.

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July 25, 2017   Posted in: Boycott Israel  Comments Closed

Robert Azzi: Congress assails First Amendment, BDS, Palestinians … – Concord Monitor

An advocate must be free to stimulate his audience with spontaneous and emotional appeals for unity and action in a common cause. When such appeals do not incite lawless action, they must be regarded as protected speech. (NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co., 1982) In contradiction to such sentiments, Sen. Maggie Hassan is co-sponsoring a Senate bill Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S.720/H.R.1697) that would make it a felony for Americans to support an international boycott against Israel. Its a bill designed to strip Americans of constitutionally protected rights, a bill that targets supporters of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement that works to end international support for Israels oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law. Boycotts to achieve political goals, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has written, are a form of expression that the Supreme Court has ruled are protected by the First Amendments protections of freedom of speech, assembly and petition. BDS is designed to give Palestinians and their supporters a nonviolent platform from which to resist occupation and illegal settlement activity, activity which the international community believes is a flagrant violation of international law without legal validity, activities condemned by innumerable U.N. resolutions from No. 242 to No. 2334 and the Fourth Geneva Convention. In 2014, Nobel Peace laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu said: I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces. Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government. BDS is designed to empower Palestinians to resist that humiliation. In response to (S.720/H.R.1697) the ACLU has written: The bill would amend those laws to bar U.S. persons from supporting boycotts against Israel, including its settlements in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, conducted by international governmental organizations, such as the United Nations and the European Union. It would also broaden the law to include penalties for simply requesting information about such boycotts. Violations would be subject to a maximum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison. We take no position for or against the effort to boycott Israel or any foreign country, for that matter. However, we do assert that the government cannot, consistent with the First Amendment, punish U.S. persons based solely on their expressed political beliefs. This bill would impose civil and criminal punishment on individuals solely because of their political beliefs about Israel and its policies. I support BDS because its a nonviolent response that I recognize initiated by Palestinian civil society to the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory, to the oppression of Palestinians, to the continued incarceration of hundreds of Palestinians held under administrative detention without either indictment or trial. BDS does not delegitimize Israel; it delegitimizes illegal occupation and oppression. In April, BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti said, Twelve years ago, we were called romantic dreamers or worse. Today, our fast-growing movement is recognized as being so strong as to be fought by the full force of Israels regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid, and by its partners in crime. Partners like members of the United State Congress whove aligned themselves with oligarchs and power brokers, partners who not only oppose BDS but who oppose making political and economic distinctions between Israel and occupied Palestinian territory. I support BDS because I recognized, and supported, the boycott in South Africa that helped to strike down apartheid. I supported the Montgomery bus boycott and the Delano grape strike because I believe in justice. Because I recognize that were called upon to resist oppression and occupation. I recognize, too, that even when boycotts dont change anything, as in the anti-Nazi boycott of 1933 that did nothing to stop the harassment of German Jews, that its morally necessary to act. As Rabbi Stephen S. Wise of the American Jewish Congress said at the time, We must speak out, and If that is unavailing, at least we shall have spoken. BDS is working. In 2016, the EU, along with Sweden, Ireland and the Netherlands, affirmed the right to support BDS as protected by freedom of speech and freedom of association. Last month the Spanish parliament unanimously passed a motion affirming the right to advocate for BDS as protected by freedom of speech and freedom of association. BDS is working. BDS supporters know its working because of the scale of resources its opponents are devoting to delegitimize and criminalize the nonviolent movement including getting members of Congress to emasculate the First Amendment. I know BDS is controversial. Some of my dearest friends dont support it at all; others want BDS to apply only to the occupied territories. I get that, and support their choice. However, those friends and I do agree that the Israel Anti-Boycott Act is unjust and is a blatant attempt to dissuade American supporters of Palestinian freedom and justice from engaging in protected political speech and action. Resisting violence is easy. Use greater violence and destroy, imprison and emasculate the enemy. If they resist, hit them harder. Resisting nonviolence is harder you cant bomb non-violent resisters into submission. So, to counter BDSs nonviolent philosophy, Israels calling upon America to violently defile existential imperatives and collude in squelching First Amendment rights. Pay attention: (S.720/H.R.1697) aligns America with governments that choose to deal with dissent and protest by limiting freedoms and speech governments like Poland, Russia, Turkey, Israel and Egypt. Were not like them. Were better than that. Pay attention: If speech can be criminalized in order to oppress Palestinians then it could as easily be used against any other group that displease the government or oligarchs in the future. Pay attention: Last week Vice President Mike Pence said, America stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel, as together we confront those enemies who threaten our people, our freedom and our very way of life. What he, and Hassan, fail to recognize is that those who threaten our people, our freedom, and our very way of life is us that were in danger of becoming our enemy. Let us speak out: If that is unavailing, at least we shall have spoken. (Robert Azzi is a photographer and writer who lives in Exeter. He can be reached at theother.azzi@gmail.com and his columns are archived at theotherazzi.wordpress.com.)

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July 23, 2017   Posted in: Boycott Israel  Comments Closed

The First Amendment Protects the Right to Boycott Israel – ACLU (blog)

Earlier this week, the ACLU sent a letter to members of Congress opposing the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. The bill would amend existing law to prohibit people in the United States from supporting boycotts targeting Israel making it a felony to choose not to engage in commerce with companies doing business in Israel and its settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Violations would be punishable by a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison. The bill is aimed at advocates of boycotts targeting Israel, most notably the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement a global campaign that seeks to apply economic and political pressure on Israel to comply with international law. Specifically, the bill sponsors intend the act as a response to the U.N. Human Rights Councils 2016 resolution calling on companies to respect human rights, including in occupied Palestinian territories. No matter what you think about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one thing is clear: The First Amendment protects the right to engage in political boycotts. In fact, the right to boycott is one of the brightest stars in our constitutional firmament. The American Revolution was founded on boycotts against British goods to protest excessive taxes. John Jay led a boycott against New York merchants who engaged in the slave trade. And the Montgomery bus boycott of 19551956 was a major turning point in the struggle for civil rights in the Jim Crow South. In the 1970s and 1980s, colleges and universities led a widespread campaign to boycott and divest from South Africa, in protest of apartheid. In 2015, football players at the University of Missouri went on strike until the school addressed acute racial tensions on campus. And North Carolinas law prohibiting transgender people from accessing restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identities sparked massive boycotts by businesses and individuals. Boycotts are a form of collective action that allows ordinary people to make their voices heard. For precisely this reason, the Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment protects the right to boycott. The courts landmark decision in NAACP v Claiborne Hardware Co. affirmed the constitutional right of NAACP activists to hold a mass economic boycott of white-owned businesses in Port Gibson, Mississippi, to protest the communitys persistent racial inequality and segregation. In ringing language, the court held that the boycotters exercise of their rights to speech, assembly, and petition . . . to change a social order that had consistently treated them as second-class citizens rested on the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values. No matter what you think about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one thing is clear: The First Amendment protects the right to engage in political boycotts. This is a proud constitutional legacy. Today, though, the right to boycott is under assault. Over the past several years, federal, state, and local legislators have introduced wave after wave of legislation seeking to stamp out boycotts and divestment campaigns aimed at Israel. One such law, passed earlier this year by Nassau County in New York, prohibits the county from doing business with people who support the BDS movement. As a result, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame could be banned from playing at the Nassau Coliseum in New York. Similar laws have been passed in Arizona and Kansas. None of them comport with the First Amendment. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act introduced in Congress goes a step further, threatening severe civil and criminal punishment against individuals who refrain from doing business with Israel because of their political opposition to its governments actions. The bill amends two existing laws, the Export Administration Act of 1979 and the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, which prohibit certain boycotts sponsored by foreign governments. The bill would expand the application of those laws in a number of ways. It would expand the laws to prohibit boycotts called for by international organizations, like the United Nations and the European Union; it would threaten sanctions against people who boycott businesses operating in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories; and it would prohibit even requests for information about companies business relationships with Israel and Israeli companies. This expansive language would likely chill a wide range of political activity in the United States directed at the Israeli government activity that is constitutionally protected, regardless whether members of Congress agree with it. A number of the bills sponsors were apparently surprised by the ACLUs free speech concerns with the bill. A number of them have now expressed their intention to review the legislation with the ACLUs civil rights and civil liberties concerns in mind. We hope they do the right thing by backing away from any bill that violates our First Amendment rights.

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July 20, 2017   Posted in: Boycott Israel  Comments Closed


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