Tell Congress to oppose anti-BDS legislation

(illustration: Marina Djurdjevic)

It is urgent that members of Congress hear from constituents who oppose these bills.

By Evangelical Lutheran Church of America | Feb 15, 2018

“As churches and church-related organizations, we reject any efforts by the state to curtail these rights. We urge you to oppose the proposed legislation, and thus support the rights of individuals and institutions to spend and invest in accordance with their faith, values, and policies.”

Dangerous bills that could undermine the work of advocates for a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis continue to make their way through Congress. These include the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (H.R. 1697 and S. 720) and the Combating BDS Act of 2017 (H.R. 2856 and S. 170) which 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.

It is urgent that members of Congress hear from constituents who oppose these and similar bills. The U.N. Human Rights Office recently released a report outlining progress in developing a database of businesses engaged in certain activities related to Israeli settlements, as mandated earlier by the U.N. Human Rights Council. A new House resolution critical of the council includes a call to support the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. . . .

Besides the serious problem of curtailing free expression, both sets of bills also conflate Israel and the settlements, erasing the distinction between Israel and its illegal settlements in the West Bank.

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.

In addition to legislation before Congress, numerous states have adopted laws or executive orders aimed at boycotts of Israel and/or Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory. In January a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction on one such law in Kansas, stating “the Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment protects the right to participate in a boycott like the one punished by the Kansas law.”

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