US labor board affirms union’s right to boycott Israel

“As Americans who have a constitutional right to criticize our own government, we certainly have a right to criticize and, if we choose, boycott a foreign government that is heavily subsidized by US taxpayers.”

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 25 July 2016

The United Electrical Workers backed BDS in a vote of delegates at the union’s August 2015 national convention in Baltimore. (via Facebook)

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Are state boycotts of the anti-Israel BDS movement constitutional?

An Egyptian wears a T-shirt with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) logo in 2015. The state of New Jersey is expected to pass legislation Monday, which would boycott companies that support BDS.(Amr Nabil/AP)

Aidan Quigley, June 27, 2016

The New Jersey state legislature is expected to pass legislation on Monday that will prevent the state from investing in companies that participate in the “boycott, divestment, and sanctions” movement against Israel, joining a growing number of states that already have similar regulations in place.

Supporters say the bill will strengthen the state’s relationship with Israel, while opponents of the bill say it – and similar legislation in other states – is unconstitutional and amounts to a restriction on free speech and the right to “peaceful political activity.”

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement was established by Palestinian civil society in 2005 and encourages a boycott of Israeli companies, divestments from organizations that support Israel and encouraging sanctions against Israel. The movement has seen support in Europe and in the United States, especially on college campuses, as The Christian Science Monitor reported last year.

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Andrew Cuomo’s Anti-Free Speech Move on BDS

Alex Nabaum

As a Jew who has lived in Israel and has many relatives there, I feel that the government should not be dictating how I relate to the Jewish state and in what ways I voice my objection to its policies

DANIEL SIERADSKI, New York Times, JUNE 12, 2016

IN 1985, Gov. Mario M. Cuomo proposed that New York State divest of its billions of dollars in investments in companies that did business with South Africa “to demonstrate,” he declared, “the abhorrence of our residents to the pernicious system of apartheid.” An opponent of Mr. Cuomo’s plan, the state comptroller, Edward V. Regan, told The New York Times, “We’re not in the foreign-policy business.”

State Republicans blocked Mr. Cuomo’s efforts, and he ultimately settled for divesting personally from apartheid, withdrawing his personal funds from banks with ties to South Africa.

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February 22, 2016
Panel: Does Free Speech Apply to the Conversation on Israel?

Jewish Voice for Peace members in the Madison area are hosting an exciting event which we hope you will join:

Does Free Speech Apply to the Conversation on Israel?
A panel featuring Rabbi Michael Davis of Chicago and Two UW Madison SJP Students
Sequoya Public Library, 4340 Tokay Blvd. (at Midvale), Madison WI
Monday, February 22 at 7:00 PM

Madison area members of Jewish Voice for Peace invite you to hear three human rights activists discuss free speech challenges they have faced while working for peace and justice in Israel/Palestine. A Q&A will follow the formal part of the program.

Speakers include:
Rabbi Michael Davis
A founding member of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council, a former Israeli settler, and a longtime Chicago-based advocate for peace. He founded Reform Cantors of Chicago in 2009 and the Open Hillel Rabbinical Council in 2014. He has served on the faculty of the Hebrew Seminary in Skokie, IL. Rabbi Davis was born in the United Kingdom and grew up in Israel.

Amal Ayesh
Co-president of Students for Justice in Palestine at UW-Madison, and a biology major from Ramallah, Palestine. Her family moved to Milwaukee when she was 10 years old.

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January 8, 2016
Live Webcast – “Uncivil Rites”

Palestine and the Limits of Academic Freedom

Dr. Steven Salaita, Author & Professor
The Palestine Center, Washington, DC
1:00-2:00 pm EST

In the summer of 2014, renowned American Indian Studies professor Steven Salaita had his offer of a tenured professorship revoked by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. Salaita’s employment was terminated in response to his public tweets criticizing the Israeli government’s summer assault on Gaza. His firing generated a huge public outcry, with thousands petitioning for his reinstatement, and more than five thousand scholars pledging to boycott the University of Illinois. His case raises important questions about academic freedom, free speech on campus, and the movement for justice in Palestine. In this book, Salaita combines personal reflection and political critique to provide a thorough analysis of his controversial termination. He situates his case at the intersection of important issues that affect both higher education and social justice activism.

Steven Salaita is the author of six books, including Israel’s Dead Soul (Temple University Press 2011). During the 2015-2016 academic year, he is serving as the Edward W. Said Chair of American Studies at the American University of Beirut.


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April 17, 2014
Academic Freedom and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)

Students for Justice in Palestine – UW-Madison Chapter invites you to a teach-in on Academic Freedom and the Palestinian Popular Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)

Thursday, April 17th
7:00 pm
Union South Agriculture Room

The speakers at the event are:

  • Prof. Samer Alatout, Dept. of Community and Environmental Sociology;
  • Prof. Phil Gasper, ‘The Struggle for Palestine’ (2002) contributor; and
  • Representatives of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Read the op-ed by Students for Justice for Palestine – UW-Madison Chapter in the Daily Cardinal.

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