Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Fascist Traitors In House and Senate Tryna Criminalize Anti-Israel Speech

WaPo  |  When government takes sides on a particular boycott and criminalizes those who engage in a boycott, it crosses a constitutional line.

Cardin and other supporters argue that the Israel Anti-Boycott Act targets only commercial activity. In fact, the bill threatens severe penalties against any business or individual who does not purchase goods from Israeli companies operating in the occupied Palestinian territories and who makes it clear — say by posting on Twitter or Facebook — that their reason for doing so is to support a U.N.- or E.U.-called boycott. That kind of penalty does not target commercial trade; it targets free speech and political beliefs. Indeed, the bill would prohibit even the act of giving information to a U.N. body about boycott activity directed at Israel.

The bill’s chilling effect would be dramatic — and that is no doubt its very purpose. But individuals, not the government, should have the right to decide whether to support boycotts against practices they oppose. Neither individuals nor businesses should have to fear million-dollar penalties, years in prison and felony convictions for expressing their opinions through collective action. As an organization, we take no sides on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But regardless of the politics, we have and always will take a strong stand when government threatens our freedoms of speech and association. The First Amendment demands no less. 

WaPo  |   The Israel Anti-Boycott Act would extend the 1977 law to international organizations, such as the United Nations or even the European Union, that might parallel the Arab League’s original “blacklist” of companies doing business with Israel, which was the heart of its boycott.

It couldn’t come at a better time. Already, the U.N. Human Rights Council has passed a resolution last year requesting its high commissioner for human rights to create a database of companies that operate in or have business relationships in the West Bank beyond Israel’s 1949 Armistice Lines, which includes all of Jerusalem, Israel’s capital.

If the high commissioner implements this resolution, as he appears determined to do, it will create a new “blacklist” that could subject American individuals and companies to discrimination, yet again, for simply doing business with Israel.

Moreover, the European Union has instituted a mandatory labeling requirement for agricultural products made in the West Bank and has restricted its substantial research and development funds to Israeli universities and companies to only those with no contacts with territories east of the Armistice Line. None of the many U.N. member states that are serial human rights violators are accorded similar treatment. Not Iran. Not Syria. Not North Korea. Only Israel.

These kinds of actions do not create the right atmosphere to prompt resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians that the Trump administration is seeking to jump-start.