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.”