Hot off the press: The ACLU is raising red flags about the unconstitutionality of the latest, most draconian attempt to date to deny activists the right to boycott. For Congress to heed its call to oppose this bill, they need to hear from BDS supporters like you!
On March 23, Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rob Portman (R-OH), and Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Juan Vargas (D-CA), introduced the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S.720 and H.R.1697).
This bill seeks to impose fines and criminal penalties and deny government loans to corporations refusing to do business with corporations in illegal Israeli settlements. It infringes on our First Amendment right to promote boycott, divestment and sanctions and seeks to legitimize Israel’s settlements.
When confronted by a reporter inquiring why he is seeking to penalize BDS supporters, the bill’s lead sponsor, Senator Ben Cardin, claimed: “We are very sensitive to freedom of speech.”
The ACLU, and we at the US Campaign, beg to differ. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act would punish business owners that boycott Israel or Israeli settlement products with “a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison,” according to a letter by the ACLU. It even goes so far as to penalize people for just requesting information about a boycott.
The ACLU explained its opposition to the bill:
“The bill would punish businesses and individuals based solely on their point of view. Such a penalty is in direct violation of the First Amendment.”
An expose out yesterday from The Intercept called foul on Members of Congress who have claimed to stand up for civil rights and civil liberties, but cosponsored this bill denying our right to boycott for justice:
“Among the co-sponsors of the bill are several of the politicians who have become political celebrities by positioning themselves as media leaders of the anti-Trump #Resistance… These politicians, who have built a wide public following by posturing as opponents of authoritarianism, are sponsoring one of the most oppressive and authoritarian bills that has pended before Congress in quite some time.”
Please contact your Members of Congress right now to let them know you support BDS and oppose unconstitutional attempts to restrict our First Amendment right to advocate for it.
The LA Times recently called BDS a “classic tool of peaceful political expression,” and Members of Congress may soon start singing the same tune if they keep hearing from their BDS-supporting constituents.
Government Affairs Associate
US Campaign for Palestinian Rights