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March Update on Anti-BDS Legislation

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Anti-BDS Legislation continues to be introduced in state legislatures across the country attempting to punish and suppress activism for Palestinian human rights. FOSNA is responding at the national and local level.

National Response:

FOSNA has written a Christian statement illustrating the important role economic advocacy has played and continues to played in our ability as people of faith to stand with the oppressed.  We hope this statement can be used by those organizing to stop this legislation by adding a Christian voice urging our representatives to exercise their political power to halt these misguided legislative efforts and to uphold the First Amendment rights of their constituencies. 

Please help gather endorsements to the statement from Clergy and Christian-based organizations here! Once we have a solid list of endorsements, a PDF of the letter will be available here on our website for distribution to state legislators.

Local Group Response:

FOSNA local groups are responding to these threats to our constitutional rights in creative and powerful ways.

  • Sabeel - Colorado prepared two FAQs you can read here and here.
  • In Maryland, Sabeel DC is part of a coalition called Freedom2Boycott that organized a Lobby Night to respond to the legislation.
  • In California, NorCalFOS is part of a coalition that gathered an impressive list of endorsements to the statement given to all legislators.
  • In Iowa, FOSNA's Robert Diedrich's published a letter to the editor in the Des Moines Register.

To find out if there is legislation being introduced in your state check this table kept current by Americans for Peace Now. If you would like to get involved in the effort in your state to stop this legislation from passing please e-mail friends@fosna.org and we can connect you with local organizers. Thank you! Together we can stop this threat to our constitutional rights and defend this powerful tool for social change!

 

March 2015

In recent months, there have been at least two different bills proposed by members of Congress seeking to legislate measures against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, both here in the US and abroad. They include the U.S.-Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act introduced in the House (Senate version here) and the Boycott Our Enemies, Not Israel Act

Amongst other things, these bills would discourage and punish foreign companies, particularly Europeans ones, that abide by BDS, force American companies to certify that they do not do so in order to be eligible for government contracts, and call for state and federal agencies to divest from US companies that do honor BDS guidelines. These efforts, which are being spearheaded by the Israel lobby group AIPAC, follow previous attempts to use legal means to suppress BDS in the US, in particular on college campuses. As we move forward in asking more companies and municipalities to drop their contracts with G4S in accordance with BDS, we must also work to prevent acts from passing into law that will discourage ethical business practices. 

Below are some basic messages and talking points on efforts by US politicians to suppress BDS in the US and around the world. 

Main Messages

  • Attempts to use legislation as a means to suppress the BDS movement, both in the US and abroad, are anti-democratic and raise the question of whether the members of Congress who support them are putting Israel’s interests above America’s.
  • Members of Congress who endorse these bills are out of step with the growing number of Americans who do not support Israel and its apartheid policies towards the Palestinians, and who do support BDS. In particular, young people, liberals, Democrats, and people of color.
  • Efforts such as these by Israel’s defenders in Congress and elsewhere are evidence of the strength and success of the BDS movement.
  • The US and other members of the international community should support, not obstruct, Palestinian efforts to attain freedom and justice through BDS and at international forums like the UN and International Criminal Court (ICC).
  • If members of Congress lived up to their stated ideals of freedom, justice and equality, and held Israel to account for its illegal and unjust policies instead of supporting and enabling them, there might not be a need for BDS. 

Talking Points

  • Attempts to legislate against BDS in the US are anti-democratic, unconstitutional, and un-American.
  • Efforts such as these by Israel’s defenders in Congress and elsewhere are evidence of the strength and success of the BDS movement. BDS has been growing rapidly around the world and in the US in recent years, in particular amongt churches and on university campuses across the country.
  • Members of Congress/US politicians who support measures such as these are out of step with US public opinion. A growing number of Americans, particularly young people, liberals, and people of color, are questioning US support for Israel and are turning to alternative methods to resolve the conflict such as BDS.
  • In fact, a poll conducted in November 2014 found that a whopping 39% of Americans think that the US government should impose sanctions on Israel over the construction of settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
  • Increasingly, Americans recognize the need to end Israeli impunity and to hold Israeli officials to account for their actions if there is ever to be peace in Palestine/Israel. BDS is an important tool in this effort.
  • The true, rejectionist face of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was revealed during the last election. He ran a racist campaign and promised never to allow a Palestinian state if he was reelected and he was rewarded for it by Israelis. It has never been more clear that the US-sponsored “peace process” is dead. It’s time for the international community to finally take concrete action against Israel and to apply BDS, arms embargoes, and other measures until Israel grants Palestinians their freedom and rights.
  • The writing is on the wall after the election: BDS is the way forward. That’s why the Israeli government and its defenders in Congress are so afraid of it. 
  • US politicians are attempting to use legal means to suppress Americans who support Palestinian freedom and self-determination, in support of a racist and oppressive foreign government. 
  • Many of the same members of Congress who are rushing to enact legislation to protect Israel from BDS - even at the expense of the rights of Americans - support boycotts and sanctions against any number of other countries, including others in the region like Iran and Syria. This hypocrisy is shameful and revealing of the real double standards applied to Israel, which give Israeli leaders impunity to abuse Palestinian rights and defy international law and official US policy.
  • What kind of message are members of Congress sending to Palestinians with bills such as these, that seek to block any and all peaceful recourse for Palestinians struggling for their freedom and rights against a much more powerful, rejectionist Israeli government? If anyone still held any delusions that Israeli leaders were serious about making peace in the absence of outside pressure, this last election should have dispelled them.

 

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