Criminalizing Support for BDS
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
BDS activism is vital to demand Israel be held accountable for its longstanding high crimes against millions of Palestinians.
The late Howard Zinn called dissent “the highest form of patriotism.” The Center for Constitutional Rights earlier said “(t)he growing threat to the right to dissent has been demonstrated in the US government’s efforts to silence speech, and criminalize and target peaceful movements.”
It calls effort to silence criticism of Israel “the Palestinian Exception” to fundamental First Amendment rights.
In June 2016, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Executive Order No. 157, “directing state entities to divest all public funds supporting the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.”
“We are against the BDS movement, and it’s very simple,” he roared. “New York stands in solidarity with Israel today and always.”
Cuomo expressed “unwavering support for” its nonexistent democracy, ruthless oppression of Palestinians, wars at its discretion, and longstanding barbarity exceeded only by America’s permanent war on humanity.
Resisting tyranny is a universal right. BDS activism is vital. So are fundamental First Amendment rights.
“In Texas v. Johnson (1989), Supreme Court Justice William Brennan wrote the majority opinion, saying:
“(I)f there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable.”
It doesn’t get any clearer than that. Yet 43 bipartisan Senate neocons believe otherwise when it comes to Israel. They support legislation criminalizing support for BDS – a fundamental right for everyone everywhere.
S.720 – Israel Anti-Boycott Act provisions call for fines ranging from $250,000 to $1 million and/or imprisonment for up to 20 years – for exercising fundamental First Amendment rights.
Similar HR 1697 – Israel Anti-Boycott Act legislation has 234 bipartisan co-sponsors.
I’m a proud BDS cultural member, an unapologetic Israeli critic, a staunch supporter of Palestinian rights – not a self-hating Jew. Claiming it about anyone is oxymoronic.
AIPAC long sought congressional action criminalizing BDS. It was involved in drafting anti-Israeli boycott legislation, calling its enactment one of its top priorities.
On July 17, the ACLU addressed Senate members by letter, expressing strong opposition to “punish(ing) individuals for (their constitutional right to express) political beliefs” freely.
“We…assert that the government cannot, consistent with the First Amendment, punish US persons” for views openly expressed.
Rarely ever do congressional members criticize Israeli policies. It’s a third rail they dare not touch, a potential career-ender.
BDS activism is courageous and resilient. It’s the most effective way to challenge Israeli viciousness.
It deserves universal support and encouragement. I’ve strongly criticized Israeli policies in numerous articles and on-air interviews.
Congressional legislation won’t silence me – hopefully not anyone else.
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
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