Washington, DC | www.adc.org | February 11, 2016 – The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is outraged that members of Congress are attempting to protect Israel’s illegal settlements at the expense of our constitutional right to freedom of expression.
A new bill has been introduced to Congress that would suppress First Amendment rights to engage in free speech by participating in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. On February 10, 2016, Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Representative Robert Dold (R-Ill.-10) introduced the Combating BDS Act of 2016 (S. 2531/H.R. 4514). Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Juan Vargas (D-Calif.-51) are cosponsors of the legislation.
The bill allows state legislatures, such as California’s, to protect Israel from BDS, a nonviolent movement intended to promote Palestinian rights that are already guaranteed by International Law. By giving state governments the power to suppress BDS, the bill shields Israel from nonviolent activism and criticism.
ADC is especially outraged that the bill not only attempts to safeguard Israel from boycotts, but also aims to protect Israel’s illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank. The bill gives states the power to punish companies that boycott “Israel or persons doing business in Israel or Israeli-controlled territories.” “Israeli-controlled territories” is a euphemism for Israeli settlements in the Wes Bank.
Congress would also alter longstanding U.S. foreign policy through this bill. In June 2015, the State Department criticized Congress for wrongly conflating Israel and its illegal settlements following the enactment of the Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015. Presidents of the United States have always opposed and condemned Israel’s settlement activities as violations of international law and detriments to the peace process.
Tweet to your members of Congress using the hashtag #Right2BDS