The following is an open letter from The Right Reverend Cabell Tennis, retired Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware, in response to Maria Cantwell’s sponsorship of Senate bills S.170 and S.720.*
The Rt. Reverend Cabell Tennis
May 22, 2017
Senator Maria Cantwell
915 Second Ave
Seattle, WA 98174
Dear Senator Cantwell,
This letter comes from a Seattle resident who greatly respects and appreciates your work as a United States senator for Washington. I am a retired Episcopal Bishop, a lifelong Democrat and progressive.
I especially salute you and your colleagues in the Washington State delegation for your steadfast alertness to the sometimes threatening proposals from the Trump administration and the Republican majority.
There is, however, one matter that seems to me to be outside of progressive and fair-minded legislation. I am referring to the present move to constrain the use of boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS). From my perspective, and I would urge you to join me, BDS is a nonviolent, peaceful means for people to support the oppressed and take a stand against violations of international law when they are occurring and our government does not act.
In this case, I am referring to the Palestinian people who have been under military occupation for more than 60 years while we have consistently supported the State of Israel by financial contributions and vetoes in the United Nations. The pattern is clearly that of apartheid as it was practiced by South Africa during the long night of oppression there.
I urge and encourage you to not support legislation that seeks to limit or suppress BDS. It is a fundamental right of the people of this country to petition their government through peaceful and nonviolent means including acts of protest.
* Senate bill S.170, the “Combating BDS Act of 2017,” prohibits “measures by State and local governments to divest from entities that engage in commerce-related or investment-related boycott, divestment, or sanctions activities targeting Israel.”
Senate bill S.720, the “Anti-Israel Boycott Act,” prohibits “boycotts fostered by international governmental organizations against Israel.”