Congress’s Anti-Boycott Act Threatens More Than Free Speech

Churches for Middle East Peace, July 28, 2017

In The News

Democratic Senators Rethink Bill Criminalizing Support for Israel Boycott [Roll Call]
Roll Call reports, “Democratic senators are thinking twice about the proposed Israel Anti-Boycott Act after an outcry by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which considers it a ‘serious threat to free speech.’ While Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the bill’s lead author, said that the ACLU had misinterpreted the piece of legislation, he expressed his intention to ‘make it clearer.’ The act targets the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, an international effort to boycott businesses in Israel and occupied Palestinian territories in order to pressure Israel to comply with international law and stop the further construction of settlements.”

This Piece of Pro-Israel Legislation Is a Serious Threat to Free Speech [The Washington Post]
“The Israel Anti-Boycott Act is designed to stifle efforts to protest Israel’s settlement policies by boycotting businesses in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. … Whether one approves or disapproves of the BDS movement itself, people should have a right to make up their own minds about it. … By using their power in the marketplace, consumers can act collectively to express their political points of view. There is nothing illegal about such collective action; indeed, it is constitutionally protected,” write the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Legal Director David Cole and National Political Director Faiz Shakir.

Read The Small Print. How Nearly 200 Congressmen Could’ve Signed on a Bill Criminalizing Free Speech And Legitimizing Israel’s Occupation Of Palestine [Huffpost]
Political consultant Marilyn Katz writes, “Hidden behind the benign language of the [Israel Anti-Boycott Act] legislation … are laws that would criminalize even speaking out about a boycott while legitimizing Israel’s 50-year occupation of the West Bank ― an occupation considered illegal by the world, and condemned even by the United States.”


J Street, a Reliable Foe Of BDS, Urges Congress to Oppose Israel Anti-Boycott Act For Now [The Intercept]
“J Street, founded in late 2007 to promote a two-state solution, opposes the Israeli occupation and general treatment of the Palestinians, but also has refused to endorse the Palestinian-led nonviolent boycott movement. Its activists regularly find themselves at odds with left-wing groups such as Jewish Voices for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine who view BDS as the best way to end the occupation of the Palestinians. Thus J Street often lobbies in favor of anti-BDS legislation. However, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act is a step too far for even these reliable opponents of BDS,” reports The Intercept.

Israel Anti-Boycott Bill Does Not Violate Free Speech [The Washington Post]
Northwestern University School of Law Professor Eugene Kontorovich writes, “The Israel Anti-Boycott Act is a minor updating of a venerable statute that has been at the center of the U.S. consensus on Israel policy — the laws designed to counteract Arab states’ boycott of Israel by barring Americans from joining such boycotts. … Current law prohibits U.S. entities from participating in or cooperating with international boycotts organized by foreign countries. These measures, first adopted in 1977, were explicitly aimed at the Arab states’ boycott of Israel, but its language is far broader, not mentioning any particular countries.”

Jewish, Muslim & Christian Leaders Denied Entry to Israel for Supporting Palestinian Human Rights [Presbyterian News Service]
“Five leaders on an interfaith delegation to Israel/Palestine were refused permission to board their plane in the United States, in what appears to be an implementation of Israel’s travel ban on supporters of Palestinian rights and Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS). … ‘I am part of a Jewish, Muslim and Christian delegation of committed, nonviolent peacemakers whose plan is to meet with those in both Israel and Palestine who are working every day for a Just Peace in the Holy Lands,’ [stated] Rick Ufford-Chase, Moderator of the 216th General Assembly, PC(USA) and member of the Activist Council of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. ‘At this time when tension and violence are rising once again, the work we are doing to build trust and work for a viable peace is more important than ever, and I stand ready to go the moment the State of Israel gives us permission to fly,’” reported Presbyterian Peace Fellowship in a statement released Monday.


I’m The First Jew Banned From Israel For Supporting BDS [The Forward]
Deputy Director of Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbi Alissa Wise was one of five members of an interfaith delegation refused permission to board a flight to Israel at the Israeli government’s request. Wise writes that she “became a rabbi for one core reason: to build toward justice and liberation for all people by organizing with Jews in deep partnership with directly impacted communities across borders and faiths. Our delegation planned to spend 12 days in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories, meeting with Palestinian and Israeli grassroots activists and faith leaders and visiting our respective holy sites.”

CMEP is organized to educate and give witness to principles of peace and justice in the Middle East on behalf of its religious constituencies by advocating public policy positions approved by the CMEP board. CMEP’s policy position seven states: “In order to defend free speech and religious liberty,  uphold the right of churches and organizations to find appropriate and various ways to end unjust practices and policies that violate international laws and conventions, including exerting economic leverage on commercial and government actors.”

Demand the Release of Khalida Jarrar and Khitam Saafin

A Petition to Rex Tillerson, US Secretary of State; the European Union, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Khitam Saafin (left) and Khalida Jarrar (right)


Addameer Prisoner Support & Human Rights Association

Addameer calls for the immediate release of Khalida Jarrar and Khitam Saafin, who were arrested in pre-dawn raids by Israeli occupation forces on 2 July 2017.

On 9 July 2017, Saafin was issued a three-month administrative detention order, without charge or trial. On 12 July 2017, Jarrar was issued a six-month administrative order. Saafin and Jarrar’s trials are both based on secret evidence; therefore, their legal representatives are unable to fully address the prosecution’s argument, which asserts that Jarrar and Saafin pose a security threat.

Jarrar is a Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member and a member of the Board of Directors of Addameer. She has been the head of the Prisoners Commission of the PLC since 2006, and was appointed to the Palestinian National Committee for the follow-up to the International Criminal Court. Jarrar has been targeted by Israeli forces in recent years. She was released from prison in June 2016 after serving over a year, including one-month under administrative detention.

Saafin, president of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, has spoken internationally and participated in many worldwide events, including the World Social Forum, linking women’s struggles internationally with the struggle of Palestinian women for national and social liberation.

This practice of arbitrary detention is a grave violation of international laws and human rights standards, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention. Both women are prominent civil society leaders and additionally, their work meets the United Nations definition of a human rights defender. It is our belief that Jarrar and Saafin are being illegitimately targeted and punished by Israeli military authorities as a result of their significant human rights work.

Addameer reiterates its call for Jarrar and Saafin’s immediate release, as their detention constitutes an attack on Palestinian civil society leaders. Please take action and sign the petition now!

On Facebook Live: A Conversation With Roger Waters!

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), July 7, 2017

On Saturday, July 15, tune in on Facebook and join us for a live, hour-long conversation on the cultural boycott of Israel with one of today’s leading musicians!

Live on Facebook: A Conversation with Roger Waters

Saturday, July 15, 2017
8pm Palestine / 5pm GMT / 12pm CDT
Live on the BDS National Committee’s Facebook page

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) is excited to host a conversation with Roger Waters on his support for the cultural boycott of Israel and Palestinians’ rights.

Roger Waters is an English rock musician, singer-songwriter, and composer. He is best known as the bass player, co-lead vocalist, lyricist and the principal songwriter in the rock band Pink Floyd.

The conversation will be facilitated by Noura Erakat, a Palestinian human rights attorney and activist.

We are honoured to host Roger Waters for this conversation, and hope you can join us!

We will broadcast live from the Palestinian BDS National Committee’s Facebook page. Tune in on Saturday, July 15 at 5pm GMT / 12pm CDT for an hour-long conversation with one of today’s leading musicians.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) was initiated in 2004 to contribute to the struggle for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality. PACBI advocates for the boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions, given their deep and persistent complicity in Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights as stipulated in international law. Visit PACBI’s website and follow us on Twitter @PACBI

Mennonite Church (USA) Says No Investing in Occupation!


, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, 06 Jul 2017

Big news! Minutes ago, the Mennonite Church (USA) voted to create an investment screen for the purpose of “withdrawing investments from companies that are profiting from the occupation.” The resolution was approved near unanimously, with approximately 98% of the 548 voters supporting it. Click here to say thank you to the Mennonites!

The comprehensive resolution lifts up the rights of Palestinian refugees, citizens of Israel, and those living under occupation, calling for an end to U.S. military aid; urging church agencies and members to review their own investments; and encouraging individuals and congregations boycott products associated with violence or military occupation; among other things.

This is the largest margin yet by which such a vote has passed in a U.S. denominational assembly. Congratulations to
US Campaign member group Mennonite Palestine Israel Network (MennoPIN), who led this extraordinary initiative!

With this vote, the Mennonite Church (USA) joins the fast-growing list of denominations that have engaged in economic acts of conscience in recent years to support justice for Palestinians, including the Quakers, United Methodists, Presbyterians, United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalists, Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men, the Alliance of Baptists, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The US Campaign was proud to support this crucial effort alongside several Palestinian friends, leaders, and organizations; and member groups Friends of Sabeel – North America, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the American Friends Service Committee.

I have been on the ground at the Mennonite Church USA convention here in Orlando, Florida with MennoPIN, working around the clock supporting their preparations, talking with delegates, providing strategic support, bringing lessons learned from the many church votes that came before this one, and speaking at delegate receptions.

But I couldn’t have been here without people like you investing in the US Campaign’s critical role in connecting, strengthening, resourcing, and lifting up amazing member group-led initiatives and successes like this.

Today, please be a part of these extraordinary victoriesand invest in many more to come — with a donation to the US Campaign.

2 Million Palestinians Denied due to Closure of Gaza Border Crossing

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights, June 19, 2017

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) follows up with concern and sorrow the deterioration of humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip due to the ongoing Israeli closure imposed on the movement of persons from and to the Gaza Strip, in addition to the additional restrictions imposed at Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing that denies over 95% of the Gaza Strip population from traveling to the West Bank and abroad. The closure of Rafah International Crossing Point at the Egyptian borders has been ongoing for over 3 months, inflicting more suffering over the Gaza Strip population, especially thousands of humanitarian cases whose health conditions aggravated or their business obstructed. There are over 30,000 persons waiting for the crossing to reopen, most of them are patients who have no proper treatment at Gaza hospitals; university students in Egypt and abroad; and holders of residence permits or visas in countries abroad.

According to PCHR’s follow-up, the Rafah International Crossing Point has been closed for 156 days since the beginning of this year, while it was open for 10 days in both directions and for 4 days for persons only returning to Gaza. During this period, around 6,209 persons were able to travel while 9,052 persons returned to Gaza. The same period last year witnessed the closure of the crossing for 173 days, while it was open for 9 days. During that period, around 6,595 persons were able to travel via the crossing, while 2,822 persons returned to the Gaza Strip. As a result of the closure, the health conditions of hundreds of patients, who had received referrals for treatment in Egyptian hospitals, deteriorated. In addition, thousands of other persons and families, including university students, holders of residence permits in countries abroad, and businessmen, experienced hardships as a result.

PCHR realizes that the current suffering endured by the Gaza Strip population goes back mainly to the illegal and inhumane Israeli closure imposed on Gaza for the 11th consecutive year, which constitutes a collective punishment against 2 million Palestinians. The Gaza Strip is a part of the occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt) under the international humanitarian law. Therefore, Israel as an occupying power is responsible for the main obligations towards the population of the occupied territory. Accordingly, the Israeli occupying authorities should declare ending the illegal closure immediately and allow the freedom of movement of individuals and goods, as the closure constitutes a grave violation of the international humanitarian law and amounts to a crime against humanity. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions 1949 to oblige the occupying authorities to abide by the rules of international humanitarian law and to open all border crossings of the Gaza Strip, including Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing, without any restrictions like age restrictions, because Erez is the only crossing that gives importance to the geographical unity between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, so it would allow the Gaza Strip residents to move freely between Palestinian cities and travel abroad.

PCHR is aware of the security situation in Sinai and understands the security measures taken by Egypt to preserve its sovereignty and national security. PCHR takes in consideration the significant role played by Egypt towards the Gaza Strip population to alleviate their suffering, including opening Rafah crossing and allowing them to move and travel freely. PCHR demands Egypt to respond to the humanitarian needs of the Gaza Strip population and to provide the necessary facilitations for their travel and transportation to and from the Gaza Strip via Egypt, especially in view of the illegal closure imposed on the Gaza Strip.