BDS is a Constitutional Right!

Washington, D.C. | | June 13, 2018 – The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) condemns in the strongest terms the smear tactics that are being used to discredit the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) and those advocating for peace and justice for Palestinians. The ongoing tactics of conflating the BDS Movement with violence and anti-Semitism is erroneous, slanderous and based on fabricated facts. ADC reaffirms its support for BDS, and the activists exercising their constitutional right to boycott and conscientiously divest from Israel’s apartheid regime. ADC will continue its principled opposition to legislation chilling protected speech on college campuses by conflating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism and violence.

In the wake of growing mainstream support and international recognition for its vital role in pressuring Israel to uphold its international legal obligations, BDS and BDS activists who support the movement are being smeared and labeled as “violent” by civil rights organizations and public figures. At the same time, Congress has introduced legislation that criminalizes BDS and conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. Additionally, states across the country are introducing their own problematic legislation aimed at stifling BDS.

ADC reiterates the important distinction between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism. By using anti-Semitism as a shield to protect Israel from legitimate opposition to its illegal, apartheid policies, Anti-BDS advocates are undermining legitimate efforts to uproot hate and marginalization. ADC has always stood against anti-Semitism and discrimination in all forms — the meritless claims of anti-Semitism by opponents of BDS demeans the meaning of the word and takes away from the issue of actual anti-Semitism.

Last week, the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment of known xenophobe and anti-BDS figurehead, Kenneth Marcus as the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. His appointment is not only an attack on the BDS movement, it is also an attack on the freedom of students on college campuses across the country. Marcus has shown a history of being against the Palestinian civil rights movement. He has attempted to bully professors into opposing the BDS movement by filing frivolous lawsuits against those partaking in BDS.

ADC specifically conveys disappointment in Senator Lamar Alexander and his lack of action as the chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Elected officials and opponents of BDS must take note that the action is constitutionally protected by the First Amendment, as stated by the Supreme Court in the case of NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co.

Regardless of what people such as Marcus and others think, BDS is inherently non-violent. BDS supports and recognizes the Palestinian people’s humanity, equality and right to self-determination. Through BDS, Palestinian civil society calls on people of conscience around the globe to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.

The conflation of BDS with violence is dishonest and it plays off bigoted stereotypes of Palestinians. To suggest that BDS is inherently violent is an offensive and absurd attempt to smear a legitimate means of ethical, economic dissent. In the context of civil rights, political and economic boycotts have played a vital role in pressuring government institutions. It was not too long ago that the BDS campaign against apartheid in South Africa successfully isolated the racist, colonial state, leading to an end to South Africa’s apartheid regime.

ADC will continue defend the human and civil rights of all Americans and work to uproot bigotry. We will continue working to uphold the BDS movement, and work vigorously to counter any effort to undermine the work of BDS activists in the U.S.

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