If America’s “core values” mean anything at all, then anti-BDS laws must be repealed

Activists attend a pro BDS rally (photo: Stephen Melkisethian / Flickr)
Since 2015, 26 states have passed anti-BDS legislation.

By Ray Hanania | Middle East Monitor | Dec 13, 2018

Arab Americans have everything on their side: the US Constitution; the rule of law; and the fight against racism enshrined in its domestic laws by the state of Israel which defines the settlements in the occupied West Bank. However, it takes more than all of that to do the right thing. It takes courage.

Last month, Airbnb, an American company that allows homeowners to list their properties for rental to visiting tourists, announced that it will prohibit listings of properties in Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. The company’s decision was morally and legally correct, not least because of the illegal nature of the settlements and the racism that underpins them.

That the Israeli settlements are built for “Jews only” isn’t the real problem, though. The real problem is that they are built on land and property stolen by Israel’s government from Palestinian Christians and Muslims in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

This week, however, the Illinois Investment Policy Board (IIPB), which manages nearly $14 billion in financial investments for the state’s pensioners, declared that Airbnb is no longer in compliance with the state’s anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) laws which prohibit boycotts of Israel. Illinois has the dubious distinction of being the first state to propose an anti-BDS law and the third state to pass such a law. Anti-BDS laws are intended to punish US citizens and businesses who exercise their Constitutional right to free speech and decide to boycott Israel’s illegal settlements.

Since 2015, when the Illinois anti-BDS law was adopted, 25 other states have passed similar legislation. This year, federal judges in Arizona and Kansas blocked the laws in the face of legal challenges, calling them unconstitutional.

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