WASHINGTON, DC — Currently, some Senators are hoping to slip the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S 720) into the 2018 omnibus appropriations package. The bill would attempt to impose criminal penalties on companies and individuals supporting international boycotts of Israel over the continued occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

According to experts at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the legislation “in both its previous versions would unconstitutionally target political boycotts for criminal penalties, thereby infringing on First Amendment-protected activities.

This position has been validated by two federal courts, which independently held that the First Amendment protects the right to participate in political boycotts of Israel, as well as any other country. If this bill were to pass, we would consider challenging it in court as well.”

MoveOn joins with the ACLU in urging Congress to reject anti-BDS attachments to the 2018 omnibus appropriations package, citing the right to boycott and maintaining First Amendment free speech rights as critical priorities for progressives.

Iram Ali, campaigner director at MoveOn, had the following statement in response:

“The right to protest and boycott are critical underlying principles of the First Amendment, which is why any legislation targeting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement is both unconstitutional and highly problematic.

“Regardless of how anyone may personally feel about BDS, Congress’ attempts to attach criminal penalties to freedom of expression against the Israeli occupation must not stand. Hiding anti-BDS legislation in end-of-the-year packages is a cowardly act and one that is being considered only because members of Congress know that this legislation would not pass muster if debated publicly and openly.

“No Democrat who considers themselves to be a progressive—and no member of Congress who claims to defend free speech—should be co-sponsoring any anti-BDS legislation.”

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  1. https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/720

    S.720 – Israel Anti-Boycott Act115th Congress (2017-2018) | Get alerts
    Hide Overview
    Sponsor: Sen. Cardin, Benjamin L. [D-MD] (Introduced 03/23/2017)

    Committees: Senate – Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
    Latest Action: Senate – 03/23/2017 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. (All Actions)

    This bill has the status Introduced
    Here are the steps for Status of Legislation:
    1. Introduced
    2. Passed Senate
    3. Passed House
    4. To President
    5. Became Law
    Co sponsors 58 Shown Here:
    Introduced in Senate (03/23/2017)
    Israel Anti-Boycott Act
    “This bill declares that Congress: (1) opposes the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution of March 24, 2016, which urges countries to pressure companies to divest from, or break contracts with, Israel; and (2) encourages full implementation of the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014 through enhanced, governmentwide, coordinated U.S.-Israel scientific and technological cooperation in civilian areas.
    The bill amends the Export Administration Act of 1979 to declare that it shall be U.S. policy to oppose:
    • requests by foreign countries to impose restrictive practices or boycotts against other countries friendly to the United States or against U.S. persons; and
    • restrictive trade practices or boycotts fostered or imposed by an international governmental organization, or requests to impose…

    • …or requests to impose such practices or boycotts, against Israel.
      The bill prohibits any U.S. person engaged interstate or foreign commerce from supporting:
      • any request by a foreign country to impose any boycott against a country that is friendly to the United States and that is not itself the object of any form of boycott pursuant to United States law or regulation, or
      • any boycott fostered or imposed by any international governmental organization against Israel or any request by any international governmental organization to impose such a boycott.
      The bill amends the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945 to include as a reason for the Export-Import Bank to deny credit applications for the export of goods and services between the United States and foreign countries, opposition to policies and actions that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize or otherwise limit commercial relations specifically with citizens or residents of Israel, entities organized under the laws of Israel, or the government of Israel.”

    • Cosponsor
      Sen. Portman, Rob [R-OH]*

      Sen. Nelson, Bill [D-FL]

      Sen. Rubio, Marco [R-FL]

      Sen. Menendez, Robert [D-NJ]

      Sen. Collins, Susan M. [R-ME]

      Sen. Blumenthal, Richard [D-CT]

      Sen. Graham, Lindsey [R-SC]

      Sen. Young, Todd C. [R-IN]

      Sen. Boozman, John [R-AR]

      Sen. Isakson, Johnny [R-GA]

      Sen. Peters, Gary C. [D-MI]

      Sen. Hatch, Orrin G. [R-UT]

      Sen. Perdue, David [R-GA]

      Sen. Roberts, Pat [R-KS]

      Sen. Wicker, Roger F. [R-MS]

      Sen. Hoeven, John [R-ND]

      Sen. Cornyn, John [R-TX]

      Sen. Fischer, Deb [R-NE]

      Sen. Heller, Dean [R-NV]

      Sen. Moran, Jerry [R-KS]

      Sen. Crapo, Mike [R-ID]

      Sen. Cantwell, Maria [D-WA]

      Sen. Grassley, Chuck [R-IA]

      Sen. Capito, Shelley Moore [R-WV]

      Sen. Schumer, Charles E. [D-NY]

      Sen. Ernst, Joni [R-IA]

      Sen. Hassan, Margaret Wood [D-NH]

      Sen. Lankford, James [R-OK]

      Sen. Burr, Richard [R-NC]

      Sen. Donnelly, Joe [D-IN]

      Sen. Scott, Tim [R-SC]

      Sen. Cruz, Ted [R-TX]

      Sen. Manchin, Joe, III [D-WV]

      Sen. Strange, Luther [R-AL]

      Sen. McCaskill, Claire [D-MO]

      Sen. Thune, John [R-SD]

      Sen. Wyden, Ron [D-OR]

      Sen. Sasse, Ben [R-NE]

      Sen. Coons, Christopher A. [D-DE]

      Sen. Bennet, Michael F. [D-CO]

      Sen. Sullivan, Dan [R-AK]

      Sen. Cassidy, Bill [R-LA]

      Sen. Tillis, Thom [R-NC]

      Sen. Cotton, Tom [R-AR]

      Sen. Kennedy, John [R-LA]

      Sen. Daines, Steve [R-MT]

      Sen. Flake, Jeff [R-AZ]

      Sen. Shelby, Richard C. [R-AL]

      Sen. Gardner, Cory [R-CO]

      Sen. Inhofe, James M. [R-OK]

      Sen. Toomey, Pat [R-PA]

      Sen. Rounds

  2. Meanwhile, while we are waiting to see how much the dual US-Israeli members of congress and the senate are allowed to limit our free speech…. We can, individually, do a boycott of our own,, during this Holiday Season, make sure you do not buy diamonds that are from bought in Tel Aviv, do not buy any wine from occupied Golan Heights, we can hurt them in the wallet. Write and call congress and tell them if they pass this bill you will not vote for an “Israeli First” politician.

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