JVP welcomes ACLU challenge to unconstitutional anti-boycott legislation
Jewish Voice for Peace welcomes the challenge brought by the American Civil Liberties Union today against an unconstitutional law in Kansas aimed at silencing the movement for Palestinian rights.
In June of 2017, the state of Kansas passed legislation requiring state contractors to sign a statement certifying that they do not boycott Israel or “territories under its jurisdiction.” The Kansas legislation requires state contractors to sign a statement certifying that they do not boycott Israel or “territories under its jurisdiction,” including companies that do business in Israel or the illegal settlements. Not only does that mean that individuals are being pressured by the government to give up their right to express a political opinion, but it also means that the U.S. government is extending its political protection to Israel’s illegal settlements.
After decades of peace processes and talks that have enabled status quo of Israeli occupation and domination to continue indefinitely, the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions offers a way for people around the world to participate in building the political pressure necessary to bring about freedom, justice and equality for Palestinians. Decades of occupation, displacement, continued settlement construction and suppression of human rights activists have made it clear that an international movement is necessary to help end Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.
Unfortunately the legislation being challenged in Kansas is just one example of a wave of similar legislation at both the state and federal levels. In Congress, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S.720/H.R. 1697) seeks to amend the Export Administration Act of 1979 to prohibit U.S. individuals and companies from taking action to comply with calls by the U.N. to boycott Israel or illegal Israeli settlements, with stiff penalties. H.R. 1697/S. 720 would provide legal support to illegal settlements and upend decades of established U.S. policy. The bill has been widely criticized, including by the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil liberties groups, for violating First Amendment protections for free speech and against political discrimination. Some Congressional leaders have withdrawn their support or announced opposition to this legislation following increased pressure from constituents.
“Whether in Kansas or in Congress, this kind of legislation is an anti-democratic attempt to silence a nonviolent movement for equality for Palestinians and a just peace for everyone in the region,” said Rabbi Joseph Berman, Jewish Voice for Peace Government Affairs Liaison. “It sets an alarming precedent of curtailing free speech, in an era when mobilizing grassroots energy to resist repressive government policies is more important than ever.”