Organizations in the Faith Forum on Middle East Policy send out action alerts monthly, focusing on different issues so that members of Congress hear consistently that their constituents support a just and lasting resolution to the Palestinian and Israeli conflict.
Congress is considering two dangerous bills that could undermine the work of advocates for a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis.
The Israel Anti-Boycott Act (H.R. 1697 and S. 720) and the Combating BDS Act of 2017 (S. 170) are part of a larger effort at the federal and state levels to outlaw or penalize the use of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions aimed at Israeli government policies.
As explained by Lara Friedman in the “Legislative Round-Up,” the Israel Anti-Boycott Act would, among other things, “amend core U.S. law regarding foreign boycotts… to make it illegal for U.S. companies to boycott or otherwise discriminate against settlements based on calls by the UN or the EU.”
The Combating BDS Act is meant to support state-level anti-BDS legislation “by affirming the legal authority of state and local governments to take tangible actions to counter economic warfare against Israel,” as stated in the press release introducing the bill.
Besides the serious problem of curtailing free expression, both bills also conflate Israel and the settlements, erasing the distinction between Israel and its illegal settlements in the West Bank, in contradiction of long-standing U.S. policy and international law.
These bills infringe on the right to boycott which the Supreme Court has affirmed. Furthermore, they would put legal obstacles in the way of non-violent peaceful action meant to bring about social change and would legislate against the freedom to make choices in the stewardship of our financial resources.
A recent paper, signed by many Christian organizations, addresses the wave of laws “that penalize or criminalize the use of economic measures to oppose Israeli policies towards Palestinians that many find unjust and discriminatory.”
The paper acknowledges that the signing organizations have varying policies “on the use of economic leverage in the context of Israel-Palestine,” and goes on to state, “However, we all share a hope and desire for an end to occupation, and we continue to advocate for that. If we choose, through debate and reflection, to employ our economic leverage to advance that policy objective, as we do many others, we understand it as our right to do so.”
Emphasizing that “such an assertion of this right is an effort to change unjust Israeli policy toward Palestinians, not to delegitimize the State of Israel, nor to marginalize or isolate our Jewish neighbors, or their enterprises,” the signing organizations conclude, “we reject any efforts by the State to curtail these rights, and will continue to exercise them, as appropriate and in accordance with our faith and policies.”
Click here to contact your members of Congress. Let them know you oppose the Anti-Boycott Act and the Combating BDS Act that stifle free expression and stand in the way of exercising moral choices in using our financial resources.
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